African Hawk-Eagle | Aquila spilogaster

Robert's Bird Of Prey Information: African Hawk Eagle

The African Hawk-Eagle is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Accipitridae bird family group which includes birds such as Raptors, Old Vultures, Osprey.

The description for the African Hawk-Eagle (Latin name Aquila spilogaster) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Aquila spilogaster can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 137 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 533. You will find a picture of the African Hawk-Eagle on page 496.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. The Latin name for this bird is Hieraaetus spilogaster in the Roberts 6th Edition.

The African Hawk-Eagle is known in Afrikaans as Grootjagarend.

The African Hawk-Eagle has a height of 65 cms and weighs around 1300 gms. The head is coloured black while the bill is coloured grey. The Aquila spilogaster has a white, black coloured throat, yellow legs and a grey, black coloured back. The eyes are orange.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is black.

Eyes are orange.

Bill is grey.

Legs are yellow.

Throat is white, black.

Back is grey, black.

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult  
Female Adult  
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

African Hawk Eagle Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The African Hawk-Eagle strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

The Aquila spilogaster attacks smaller birds in flight and uses its sharp claws to break the bird's neck. Some of the birds are attacked in their nests while others are killed on the ground. The African Hawk-Eagle eats the eggs of its victim.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The African Hawk-Eagle uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

African Hawk Eagle Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The African Hawk-Eagle is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 to 2 eggs and they are coloured white.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The African Hawk-Eagle is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

The bird is found in the arid and semi-arid regions of Southern Africa and it can withstand high day and night temperatures.

The bird is an urban dweller as well, being at home in parks, gardens and in old vacated buildings.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The African Hawk Eagle can be seen in pairs or by themselves.