Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Ayres's Hawk-eagle (Hieraaetus ayresii)


French: Aigle d'Ayres German: Fleckenadler Spanish: Águila de Ayres
Other common names: Ayres's Eagle

Spizaëtus ayresii

Gurney, Sr

, 1862,

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Until recently was frequently called H. dubius, but that name apparently refers to pale-morph H. pennatus. Present species is part of a clade that contains H. pennatus, H. morphnoides and H. weiskei#R. Monotypic.


Patchily from Guinea and Sierra Leone E to Congo, then from DRCongo and N Angola NE to Ethiopia and Somalia and SE to Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and NE South Africa; non-breeding visitor in wide regions of range, as in part of SE Africa.

Descriptive notes

44–57 cm; males 615–714 g, females 879–1150 g; wingspan 106–137 cm. Smallish, stocky eagle with slight crest (sometimes hard to see), white patch at... read more


Generally silent, except during the breeding season when gives a repeated, high-pitched, melodious... read more


Dense deciduous woodland, gallery forest, forest edge, savanna woodland and plantations of exotic... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly birds of 40–200 g, especially doves and pigeons; also a few mammals, such as tree squirrels (Paraxerus cepapi) and... read more


Laying Nov in NE DR Congo, Feb in SE DR Congo; Mar, May–Sept in Kenya; Apr–May in C Africa and Zimbabwe. Builds a large stick... read more


Considered resident in some areas, regular or partial migrant in others. In the rainy season (Nov... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Generally considered rare and sparsely distributed; apparently only reasonably common in woodlands of C Africa. No evidence... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Ayres's Hawk-eagle (Hieraaetus ayresii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).