Changeable hawk-eagle

   ›      ›   Changeable hawk-eagle - Nisaetus cirrhatus.

The changeable hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These changeable hawk-eagle species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Philippines.

Taxonomy of Changeable hawk-eagle

  • Scientific Name: Nisaetus cirrhatus
  • Common Name: Changeable hawk-eagle
  • French: Aigle huppé; German: Indienhaubenadler; Spanish: Águila variable;
  • Other names: Falco cirrhatus J. F. Gmelin, 1788; crested hawk-eagle;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Gmelin, 1788)
Nisaetus cirrhatus was earlier placed in the genus Falco and genus Spizaetus. The five recognized subspecies are: N. c. cirrhatus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788), N. c. ceylanensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1788), N. c. andamanensis (Tytler, 1865), N. c. limnaeetus (Horsfield, 1821) and N. c. vanheurni (Junge, 1936).

Indian birds - Picture of Changeable hawk-eagle - Nisaetus cirrhatus
Indian birds - Picture of Changeable hawk-eagle - Nisaetus cirrhatus


The changeable hawk-eagle is a large bird of prey, measuring 50 to 80 cm in length and weighing 1,300 to 1,900 grams. The wingspan is 100 to 160 cm. These eagle species are dimorphic and forms exist with crest and without crest. They are brown above and white below. There is barring on the undersides of the flight feathers and tail. Black longitudinal streaks occur on the throat and chocolate streaks occur on the breast. The wings and tail are long. Their call is a high-pitched ki-ki ki-ki sound.


The changeable hawk-eagle inhabit dense forests, deciduous woods and savanna dotted with tall trees.

Feeding habits

The changeable hawk-eagle species feed on mammals, birds, and reptiles. These eagle species hunt by swooping on the prey and carrying it away to their perch.


The changeable hawk-eagle breeding season is from December to April. The nest is a large stick platform, built on a tall tree. Only a single egg is laid.


The changeable hawk-eagle subspecies N. c. cirrhatus is distributed in Rajasthan and Gangetic Plains in north India. The subspecies N. c. ceylanensis occurs in Sri Lanka. The subspecies N. c. andamanensis is distributed in the Andaman Islands of India. The subspecies N. c. limnaeetus is distributed in North India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indochina, Malay Peninsula, Indonesia and Philippines. The subspecies N. c. vanheurni occurs in Simeulue Island in Indonesia.

Movement Patterns

They are mostly sedentary, moving within the range in search of prey.

Status and conservation

The changeable hawk-eagle species have an extremely large range and are considered least vulnerable. The global population size has not been quantified. Habitat destruction and increased human disturbance are the main threats to the survival of these eagle species.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these eagle species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Nisaetus cirrhatus
Species:N. cirrhatus
Binomial name:Nisaetus cirrhatus
Distribution:Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Philippines;
Feeding habits:birds, reptiles and small mammals;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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