Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Near Threatened

Gurney's Eagle (Aquila gurneyi)


French: Aigle de Gurney German: Molukkenadler Spanish: Águila moluqueña

Aquila (? Heteropus) gurneyi

G. R. Gray

, 1861,

Batjan (Bacan) Island, Moluccas


Sometimes transferred to genus Spizaetus on account of wing and tail proportions, but plumage clearly that of an Aquila. Has been associated with possible species-group containing A. chrysaetos and A. audax. Monotypic.


W Papuan Is, New Guinea, Aru Is and W D’Entrecasteaux Is (Goodenough I); also Moluccas, where recorded on Morotai, Halmahera, Ternate, Bacan, Kasiruta and Ambon, and recently on Seram. Claim from New Ireland (Lihir I) apparently not generally accepted.

Descriptive notes

66–86 cm; immature female 3060 g; wingspan 165–185 cm. Medium-sized all-blackish-brown Aquila, with paler tarsal feathering, slightly shorter wings,... read more


Only described vocalization is a medium- to high-pitched, slightly nasal, downslurred piping, which... read more


Lowland and hill primary rain forest and swamp forest, including littoral zone; forest edge and... read more

Food and feeding

Little known. Reportedly mammals, such as cuscus (Phalanger) and other arboreal possums; one record of eating cuscus on ground.... read more


Almost nothing known. No aerial displays noted. Constructs substantial stick nest in tall forest tree, but no further information.


Unknown, but breeding adults presumably sedentary. Occasional visitor to islands in Torres Strait,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. CITES II. Currently considered Near Threatened. Apparently occurs in low densities and is seldom encountered by ornithologists; biology largely... read more

Recommended citation

Debus, S., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Gurney's Eagle (Aquila gurneyi). 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 25 May 2019).