Crested Eagle Morphnus guianensis

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Jedediah W. Smith

The Crested Eagle is a very large raptor of Neotropical forests. It is listed as a CITES Appendix II species (UNEP-WCMC 2012), near threatened by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2012), and as a species of high concern to Partners in Flight (Berlanga et al. 2010). In Mexico, this species is listed as Endangered (NOM-059 SEMARNAT 2001). The Crested Eagle occurs at very low densities and requires large areas of suitable habitat, and as a result is observed infrequently. It is blackish above and pale below, with a single pointed crest on its head. The dark morph has a blackish head and dark barring below, while the more frequent pale morph has a gray head and reddish barring below. Crested Eagle is distinguished from the even more massive Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) by the presence of barring below and the absence of a bold black collar. The juvenile is pale overall and closely resembles the juvenile Harpy, from which it must be distinguished by size and shape. Crested Eagle feeds largely on arboreal mammals and birds. It often sits in the canopy, but is more likely to soar over the canopy than the Harpy. It makes a large stick nest located in the crotch of massive trees. Crested Eagle ranges from northern Central America south through the Amazon basin as well as in the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil.


© Daniel Lane

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Smith, J. W. (2012). Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.