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Little Eagle - BirdForum Opus

Photo by tannin
Shot at Clunes, Victoria, Australia
Hieraaetus morphnoides

Aquila morphnoides


Short broad head, long tail, square-cut at the tip when closed. Heavily feathered legs. Plumage varies from light to dark brown, with a pale broken 'M' across the upperparts, which is visible from a distance. There is also a pale M-shaped band on the underwing. It has long broad wings, spanning over 1m. The female is larger than the male.


[Australia]] except Tasmania.

Notice the 3-colored underside of wing: caramel front, whitish central band, dark secondaries Photo by Nora
Melton, Melbourne, Australia


It was formerly considered conspecific with Pygmy Eagle.

Aquila vs. Hieraaetus

Hieraaetus species are sometimes placed in a broader defined Aquila (e.g. Clements, 2005). Sibley & Monroe (1996) and Howard & Moore (2003) retain the placement in Hieraaetus, and the Opus awaits further clarification.


Scrub and woodland, often close to water.


Diet includes rabbits, other live mammals and insects.

Nests are built in mature living trees in open woodland or tree-lined watercourses. It is an open bowl of twigs and branches, lined with green leaves. The female mainly broods the young and feeds the young small pieces of food bill to bill. The male hunts for food for the young. The male will incubate while the female eats the food he has brought for her.


  1. Clements, James F. 2007. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2007. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801445019
  2. Abstract of paper proposing full species status for Pygmy Eagle
  3. Birdforum thread discussing id of Square-tailed Kite vs Little Eagle

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