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Changeable Hawk-Eagle - BirdForum Opus

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Subspecies cirrhatus
Photo by mikemik
Kanha National Park, Mandla, India, November 2015

Alternative name: Crested Hawk-Eagle

Nisaetus cirrhatus

Spizaetus cirrhatus


51–82 cm (20-32¼ in)

  • Brown upperparts
  • White underparts
  • Barred underside of flight feathers and tail
  • Black streaks on throat
  • Dark brown streaks on breast

Sexes alike; females larger

The name is due to the dual morph phases - a dark morph and a pale morph.


Juvenile 'pale morph'
Photo by kctsang
Singapore, 2006

Southern Asia: occurs in India, Sri Lanka and the Andamans and Nepal east to Vietnam and south to the Malay Peninsula. Also occurs in the southern Philippines, Borneo, Sumatra and Java.


New studies place this species in the genus Nisaetus instead of Spizaetus.

Flores Hawk-Eagle was recently split from this species[1], [2].


Five subspecies are recognised which are sometimes split in two species [1]:
Crested Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus):

Subspecies ceylanensis
Photo by Andrew S
Bundala National Park, Sri Lanka, November 2003

Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus limnaeetus)


Deciduous and evergreen forests, gallery forests, open woodland and savanna from sea-level up to 3,300m, hunting over forest edge and clearings.



The stick nest isplaced in a tree. A single greyish-white egg is laid.


The diet includes mammals which include squirrels, hares and rats, small and large birds and reptiles such as lizards, frogs and snakes.


Generally considered a resident species.


Photo by michha62
Khanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Call: loud, high-pitched ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-kee.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2015)
  4. Wikipedia

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