Saturday, 21 January 2012

Crowned solitary eagle

Harpyhaliaetus coronatus

(Photo from Flickriver)

Common name:
crowned solitary eagle (en); águia-cinzenta (pt); buse couronnée (fr); águila coronada (es); zaunadler (de)

Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

This South American species is found in southern Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.

These birds are 75-85 cm long and have a wingspan of 170-185 cm. They weigh 2,9-3,5 kg.

Crowned solitary eagles are found in semi-open areas of seasonally dry country, including palm savanna, sparse woodlands, steppes with bushes, chaco and campo cerrado. They have also been recorded in gallery forests, marshes and palm groves. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.200 m.

These powerful hunters take a wide range of prey including armadillos, skunks, weasels, hares, rodents, monkeys, snakes, lizards and even fishes and domestic lambs. They occasionally also eat birds, including tinamous and poultry.

Crowned solitary eagles breed in July-November. They build a platform made of sticks and branches, on a main fork in a tall tree. There the female lays a single white egg with grey or yellow spots. The female incubates the egg alone for 39-45 days and the chick is fed by both parents, only becoming fully independent after over a year. Consequently, each pair only breeds once every 2 years.

IUCN status - EN (Endangered)
This species has a very large breeding range, but it occurs at very low densities and the global population is estimated at just 250-1.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be undergoing a moderate decline, caused by habitat destruction, hunting and persecution. Large areas of campo cerrado habitats are being rapidly destroyed by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching, afforestation, invasive grasses, excessive use of pesticides and annual burning. Persecution, including shooting and deliberate disturbance, may be a significant threat in central Argentina and Paraguay.

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