Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)


French: Aigle martial German: Kampfadler Spanish: Águila marcial

Falco bellicosus


, 1800,

Great Namaqualand, South Africa




Senegambia E through W & C Africa to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, and S to South Africa.

Descriptive notes

78–96 cm; 3010–6200 g; wingspan 188–227 cm. Along with Stephanoaetus coronatus, one of the two largest eagles in Africa. Large head and long, broad... read more


Generally silent, except during breeding season. Main call is a low, mellow-sounding, plaintive... read more


Prefers sparse woodlands and woodland edges and other open habitats such as deserts, steppes,... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly vertebrates weighing 1–5 kg, with large birds (e.g. gamebirds and waterfowl), monitor lizards, or mammals (e.g. hares, hyraxes... read more


Highly variable nesting season, from Nov–Apr in Senegal, Jan–Jun in Sudan, any month in E Africa (especially Apr–Nov),... read more


Juveniles may move widely during dispersal periods; no known movements of adults outside normal... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. CITES II. Widespread and common in E and S Africa, less so in W Africa, but populations apparently in rapid decline due to poisoning, shooting, habitat loss,... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus). 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 28 January 2020).