Madagascar Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides radiatus)

Madagascar Harrier-Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Polyboroides radiatus | [authority] Scopoli, 1786 | [UK] Madagascar Harrier-Hawk | [FR] Gymnogene de Madagascar | [DE] Madagaskar-Hohlenweihe | [ES] Aguilucho caricalvo | [NL] Holenkiekendief


Monotypic species


Polyboroides is a genus of bird of prey in the Accipitridae family. This genus has two recognized species found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. The two species are allopatric and restricted to the Afrotropic ecozone. They are generally known as Harrier-hawks.

Physical charateristics

This is a very large bird of prey. Aside from its size, it is unmistakable with its black and white stripes (called barring) on its underside, grey back, long bare
yellow legs and bare pink or yellow skin patch around the eye. It is much larger than a sparrowhawk.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 68 cm size max.: 70 cm
incubation min.: 38 days incubation max.: 41 days
fledging min.: 48 days fledging max.: 52 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : Madagascar


favors undisturbed lowland tropical forest


The nest is a large, stick structure approximately 18-30 m above the ground within the
canopy of low mountain forest. The eggs are incubate for about 5-6 weeks. During incubation both parents brought food to the incubating adult. The eggs hatch asynchronous with a 2-day interval. Siblicide has bee nobserved in this species, the young fledge after about 7 weeks.

Feeding habits

Eats small birds, rodents, reptiles, insects, small lemurs.They have an unusual morphological adaptation, an intertarsal joint that permits them to flex their legs backward, as well as forward (Burton 1978), which allows them to use their feet to probe and extract prey from crevices,h oles in trees, rotting trunks and epiphytes. Such an adaptation may enable harrier-hawks to extract nestling birds from difficult to reach places. the Madagascar Harrier-Hawk is a generalist and its diet can vary between regions within Madagascar.

Video Madagascar Harrier-Hawk


copyright: Martin Kennewell


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Madagascar Harrier-Hawk status Least Concern


Sedentary throughout range

Distribution map

Madagascar Harrier-Hawk distribution range map

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