- Spizaetus ornatus
23 - 26 inches, wingspan 3 - 4 feet, weight 2 to 3 1/2 pounds
- Prominent pointed crest, raised when excited
- Black bill
- Broad wings
- Long rounded tail
- Black crown and upperparts
- Bright chestnut sides to neck and breast
- Black-edged white throat and central breast
- Remaining underparts and feathered legs are white barred with black
- Broad black bars on tail
- White underwings; flight feathers barred grey (as such, the adult is a rather pale bird when seen from below). Wings are narrower near the body and very broad the rest of the way.
Sexes are similar
Young birds are have a white head, crest and underparts, with brown upperparts, and barring only on the flanks and legs.
Two subspecies are recognized:
- S.o. ornatus:
- S.o. vicarius:
Humid forests from lowland swamp forests to higher elevation primary forests. Observed at 1,200 meters.
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Its diet includes medium-sized birds, mammals, and sometimes reptiles.
Display flight is rarely seen but includes fast vertical dives as well as U shaped flight where the bird (probably the male?) starts out going down vertically on outstretched wings, gradually bending the path to the bottom of a U and ending up going vertically up, still on outstretched wings. During display, it will call in series of single whistles. Also described is a display where the male and female in flight locks talons with each other.
They build a large stick nest on a branch of a tall tree. 1 egg is laid and incubated for 44 - 48 days. The young hawk-eagle will fledge from 9 1/2 - 13 weeks after hatching, but will stay near the nest and be fed by the parents for up to 1 year after fledging. The female Ornate Hawk-Eagle does most of the feeding of the chick while it is in the nest. The male will bring food to within a few hundred feet of the nest and give the food to the female, but usually does not feed the young.
In regular flight known to give a series of whistles, often 5 but varying from 2-9 repetitions. First note may not be audible, being less loud than the rest; otherwise first note sounds more hurried (and/or slurred) and last note not drawn out, contrary to Black Hawk-Eagle. Other sounds described include a "cat cry" and excited laughter. The song is described as a series of shorter and longer whistles given in a series that does not sound structured.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
- Birdforum member njlarsen personal observations
- Richard ffrench. 1991. A guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. Comstock/Cornell Paperbacks. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2
- Howell & Webb, 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198540124
- Restall et al. 2006. Birds of Northern South America. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300124156
- Ridgely & Gwynne 1989. Birds of Panama. Princeton Paperbacks. ISBN 0691025126
- Garrigues and Dean 2007. The birds of Costa Rica - a field guide. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-7373-9
- Ber van Perlo. 2009. A field guide to the Birds of Brazil. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA. ISBN 978-0-19-530155-7
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2021) Ornate Hawk-Eagle. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 18 May 2021 from https://www.birdforum.net/wiki/Ornate_Hawk-Eagle