Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Mountain Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis)


French: Aigle montagnard German: Berghaubenadler Spanish: Águila montañesa

Nisaëtus Nipalensis


, 1836,



Traditionally thought to form a species-group with N. bartelsi, N. alboniger (with N. nanus), N. lanceolatus and N. philippensis (with N. pinskeri). Paler form kelaarti elevated to species level by some recent authors#R#R, but this was based on very small and somewhat contradictory sample size of specimens and recordings; validation of evidence needed. Race orientalis also noted as distinctive#R. Proposed races fokiensis and whiteheadi of S China not valid. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. n. orientalis (Temminck & Schlegel, 1844) – Japanese Hawk-eagle – Japan; possibly also Russian Far East, NE China and Korea.
  • N. n. nipalensis Hodgson, 1836 – Mountain Hawk-eagle – NE Pakistan (Murree Hills) and Himalayas of India, Nepal and Bhutan E through S China and Hainan to E China and Taiwan, and S to SE Asia (mainly in N, but S to Tenasserim and also, off NW Malay Peninsula, Langkawi I); probably also Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • N. n. kelaarti (Legge, 1878) – Legge's Hawk-eagle – SW India (Western Ghats) and Sri Lanka.
  • Descriptive notes

    66–84 cm; male 2300–2700 g, female 2500-3900 g (orientalis); wingspan 134–175 cm. Large hawk-eagle, brownish above and barred below (including... read more


    Generally silent, except in the breeding season. Commonest call is a high-pitched, shrill piping... read more


    Dense foothill and montane evergreen and mixed deciduous forests, mostly from 600–4000 m... read more

    Food and feeding

    Takes a wide variety of small to medium-sized mammals, especially hares and including even monkeys such as Japanese macaques (Macaca... read more


    Season Dec–Mar in Sri Lanka, Feb–Jun in Himalayas, Feb–Aug in Japan. Large nest (up to 1·8 m across, 90... read more


    Mainly sedentary; however, fairly common in lowlands of Japan and Thailand in winter, suggesting... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Uncommon to rare; has undoubtedly suffered as result of extensive deforestation that still continues throughout most of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clark, W.S., Boesman, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Mountain Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis). 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 24 February 2020).