Montane Solitary Eagle (Harpyhaliaetus solitarius)

Montane Solitary Eagle

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Harpyhaliaetus solitarius | [authority] Tschudi, 1844 | [UK] Montane Solitary Eagle | [FR] Buse solitaire | [DE] Einsiedleradler | [ES] Aguila Solitaria | [NL] Amerikaanse Zwarte Arend


Monotypic species


Harpyhaliaetus is a genus of eagles. Recent studies have shown that the Solitary Eagle is closely related to the black-hawks, in particular the Savanna Hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis) which is smaller and browner but otherwise very similar to “Harpyhaliaetus”. Therefore, this genus may be merged into that of the black-hawks.

Physical charateristics

The adult Montane Solitary Eagle is uniformly dark gray, often appearing black, with white markings on the tail. It is 63-76 cm (25 to 30 inches) long, weighs 3 kg (6.6 lbs), and has a 152-188 cm (60 to 74 inch) wingspan. It appears very similar to the Common Black Hawk and Great Black Hawk, but is much larger and has significantly broader wings, extending nearly to the tip of the tail. The exceptionally broad wings are one of the prime distinguishing characteristics of this species. Its body also has quite a thickset appearance. The juvenile is mottled brown and tan, with markings around the eyes. It otherwise resembles the adult.

Listen to the sound of Montane Solitary Eagle

[audio: Solitary Eagle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 155 cm wingspan max.: 185 cm
size min.: 66 cm size max.: 71 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Latin America : Mexico to West, North South America. Harpyhaliaetus solitarius has a wide latitudinal distribution, from western Mexico to extreme north-west Argentina (with other populations in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia). Despite its extensive distribution, it is generally rare and exceedingly local and the population may not exceed 1,000 individuals


It is a species of humid, densely wooded foothills and other tropical and subtropical premontane and humid montane forest, mostly between 600 and 2,200 m. It is found in mountainous or hilly forests, at elevations between 600 m & 2,200 m. The frequent reports from lowlands are usually misidentifications of another species, usually the Common Black Hawk or Great Black Hawk; no reports from lowlands have been confirmed. It is rare in all areas of its range and poorly known.


Few data, one nest very near ground and another in a tall tree, both built with sticks. The nest contained one egg, and was about 80 cm in diameter and 30 cm deep.

Feeding habits

Very little is known about its diet, other than that it appears to have often been predating large snakes and one adult pair was seen hunting deer fawns. The remains of a chachalaca were noted in one nest.

Video Montane Solitary Eagle


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has a moderately small population size which is likely to be declining owing to habitat loss and hunting. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened but may be uplisted to Vulnerable based on further evidence of its population size and trends.
Serious threats include deforestation, disturbance and shooting
Montane Solitary Eagle status Near Threatened



Distribution map

Montane Solitary Eagle distribution range map

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