Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides)


French: Aigle nain German: Kaninchenadler Spanish: Águila chica

Aquila morphnoïdes


, 1841,

Hunter River, New South Wales, Australia


Part of a clade with H. pennatus and H. ayresii#R. Formerly considered conspecific with H. weiskei, which recently was elevated to full species because of its smaller size (wing length 308–317 mm vs 332–396 mm in males, 327–342 mm vs 367–413 mm in females) (score at least 2); less-pronounced or non-existent malar stripe (ns[1]); more evenly distributed dark crown streaks on white base (vs more densely packed broader dark central crown streaks on biscuit-coloured base, creating capped effect with more prominent pale postocular supercilium) (2); breast streaking more prominent and extensive (2); absence of broad pale brown (biscuit-coloured) collar (from neck sides around nape) (3); less-crested crown (ns[1]); seven (not six) tail bars, darker and broader in pattern and reaching edges of feathers (ns[2]); darker upperparts including flight feathers (ns[1])#R. Monotypic.



Descriptive notes

38–55 cm; male 440–810 g, female 745–1250 g; wingspan 101–136 cm. Small, polymorphic Hieraaetus: pale morph has characteristic underwing... read more


Generally silent, except during the breeding season when typically gives a rapid series of two or... read more


Frequents variety of open and forested habitats, e.g. sparsely wooded foothills, scrub, timbered... read more

Food and feeding

Diet rather poorly known for so widespread a species. Mostly mammals and birds, but also reptiles, large insects, carrion and fish (... read more


Season varies with latitude: longer in tropical N, occupying dry season, Mar–Dec; shorter in S, usually Aug–Oct, but rarely... read more


Resident and partly migratory populations. Some breeding adults sedentary, and some thought to... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Common and widespread throughout much of Australia; has benefited from thinning of tree cover and introduction of rabbits;... read more

Recommended citation

Debus, S., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides). 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 February 2020).