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Ornate Hawk-eagle Spizaetus ornatus
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Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin, and habitat loss and persecution elsewhere within its extremely large range, it is suspected that the population of this species will decline by 25-30% over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Near Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

58-67 cm. Large, brown-and-white hawk-eagle. Black crown and occipital crest, with chestnut on the sides of the head and hindneck extending to sides of breast. Rest of underparts are white.Tail has three greyish brown bars. Yellow legs.

Distribution and population
Spizaetus ornatus ranges through most of the Neotropics. Subspecies vicarius occurs from south-east Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama to northern South America. It is rare in west Colombia, and is also known to reach west Ecuador, but there have been very few records there (del Hoyo et al. 1994). The nominate subspecies ornatus occurs from east Colombia east through Venezuela, where it is slightly more frequent but still uncommon (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Hilty 2003, Restall et al. 2006). It is uncommon to rare in Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and Trinidad and Tobago (Restall et al. 2006). The taxon's range extends south through east Ecuador, north-east Peru and north-east Bolivia. It reaches south Brazil, where it has declined in areas of heavy deforestation, and further south to Paraguay. In north Argentina it is also known to have declined (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Population justification
Ferguson-Lees et al. (2001) estimated the population to number in the tens of thousands. Partners in Flight estimated the population to number fewer than 50,000 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 21.8-40.4% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (56 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Although the species is susceptible to hunting, it survives in fragmented landscapes (A. Lees in litt. 2011); it is therefore suspected to decline by 25-29% over three generations.

This species mainly occurs in humid forest, although it is also known to occur near open areas in Venezuela's "llanos" (plains) and in low swamp forest at Petén, Guatemala. In Colombia it mainly occurs up to 1,200 m, but has been recorded as high as 1,800 m, and elsewhere it is known rarely to reach 3,000 m. It mainly hunts large prey, especially birds and mammals. It appears to have an extended breeding season, with laying occurring in the dry season and fledging at the beginning of the rainy season (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon basin, through which it is projected to lose up to 40% of its habitat (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is also susceptible to hunting and persecution, but is comfortable traversing fragmented landscapes and has a huge range (A. Lees in litt. 2011).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006).

Bird, J. P.; Buchanan, J. M.; Lees, A. C.; Clay, R. P.; Develey, P. F.; Yépez, I.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2011. Integrating spatially explicit habitat projections into extinction risk assessments: a reassessment of Amazonian avifauna incorporating projected deforestation. Diversity and Distributions: doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00843.x.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J.; Christie, D. A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Hilty, S. L. 2003. Birds of Venezuela. A&C Black, London.

Restall, R.; Rodner, C.; Lentino, M. 2006. Birds of northern South America: an identification guide. Volume 1: species accounts. Christopher Helm, London.

Soares-Filho, B.S.; Nepstad, D.C.; Curran, L.M.; Cerqueira, G.C.; Garcia, R. A.; Ramos, C. A.; Voll, E.; McDonald, A.; Lefebvre, P.; Schlesinger, P. 2006. Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440(7083): 520-523.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N. & Symes, A.

Lees, A. & Panjabi, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Spizaetus ornatus. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Ornate hawk-eagle (Spizaetus ornatus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Daudin, 1800)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 9,430,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species