Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Black-and-white Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus)


French: Aigle noir et blanc German: Elsteradler Spanish: Águila blanquinegra

Buteo melanoleucus


, 1816,

“à la Guyane” (= French Guiana?)


Previously placed in monotypic genus Spizastur, and thought to be very similar to Old World Hieraaetus; recent phylogenetic study, however, found that this taxon was nested among the New World Spizaetus group#R. DNA studies indicate that this species is sister to the pair S. ornatus and S. isidori#R#R#R. Monotypic.


E & S Mexico (S Tamaulipas, Oaxaca) S through Central America to Colombia, E Peru and N & E Bolivia to Paraguay, N Argentina (Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Misiones) and S Brazil, and E through Venezuela to the Guianas, then S to C Brazil.

Descriptive notes

51–61 cm; 750–780 g (n = 2 of unknown sex); wingspan 110–135 cm. Striking, smallish eagle with head, neck and underparts, including underwing ... read more


Less vocal than other Spizaetus hawk-eagles. Commonest call is a repeated shrill... read more


Very catholic in habitat requirements: variety of forested areas in tropical and subtropical zones... read more

Food and feeding

Prey recorded includes mammals, reptiles, toads and many birds, e.g. caciques (Psarocolius), araçaris (Pteroglossus... read more


First known nest, found in Panama in 1972, was c. 40 m above ground in the crown of a cuipo tree (Cavanillesia platanifolia); nest... read more


Presumed to be mostly sedentary, but records outside known breeding areas in S Mexico, N Argentina... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Extensive range, but thinly distributed and nowhere considered common. The global population estimate of fewer than 50,000... read more

Recommended citation

Bierregaard, R.O., Jr, Sharpe, C.J., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Black-and-white Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus). 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 19 May 2019).