Black Hawk-Eagle

(Spizaetus tyrannus)
The magnificence of the Black Hawk-
Eagle could be due to its large size of
approximately 27 inches or its powerful
soaring flight. The latest attention in the
press to our injured Black Hawk-Eagle has
certainly endeared many Trinbagonians to
this raptor.
Black Hawk-Eagles are secretive birds
that perch low on trees and use their
amber eyes to hunt for birds, mammals
and reptiles such as squirrels, bats,
iguanas and snakes. Their range extends
from Mexico to Argentina. In Trinidad
these raptors can be found in lowland
scrub forest in the North East, Central and
South parts of the country. However. they have also been seen in hill land, namely at the Asa Wright Nature Centre.
If the raptor is perched you will see its predominantly black feathers and outstanding dark crest with a white base.
But its distinctive feature is exposed when in flight: the black and white checkered pattern on the outer flight feathers. The
four greyish bars on the tail and black and white barrings on the outer wings are also apparent on a soaring bird. In fact, it looks similar to the Ornate Hawk-Eagle except for a few distinguishing features.
Besides the checks on the wings, look out for its darker-coloured plumage, rounder wings and longer tail. Also listen for its
loud “wee, wee, wee, wu-weeeee.” The Black Hawk-Eagle is considered to be a rare bird. After all, this species only nests every two or three years. Still there have been sightings of the bird recorded in Trinidad in the past nine years. And remember, they have been seen at Spring Hill!
– J.L. Ryan
ffrench, Richard. 1991. A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago.
Hilty, Steven L. 2003. Birds of Venezuela.
Rare Birds Committee