Changeable Hawk Eagle

Changeable Hawk Eagle  Nisaetus cirrhatus limnaeetus


  • Nisaetus : Nisus- king of Megara, was betrayed by his daughter Scylla and metamorphosed into a Sparrowhawk ; aetos – Eagle
  • Cirrhatus : Latin word derived from cirrus – curl of hair   { Curly headed}
  • Limnaeetus : Greek word limne – marsh ; aetos – Eagle

Vernacular Names : Hindi: Sadal, Shah baaz, U.P.: Morhaita, Ben: Sadal, Guj: Morbaaz, Te: Jutubhyri, Nemalipurigadda, Andaman: Arungadda

Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayan foothills, North East and Andaman.

Description: Size of 51–82 cm; wt. of 1300–1900 g; wingspan of 100–160 cm. It  occurs in  two forms, crested and crestless. It is dark brown above, and has heavily streaked dark on whitish underparts. Irides are yellow to orange-yellow in adult, greyish-brown to pale greenish-yellow in juvenile; Cere  is greyish to greenish-brown in adult, dull greyish in juvenile; feet is yellow. Race ceylanensis is monomorphic, with long crest, similar to nominate race but smaller; races andamanensis and vanheurni aremonomorphic and crestless ; race limnaeetus also lacks crest and has light morph that is more heavily streak.

Habitat: It is found in deciduous and evergreen forest, as well as secondary forest, gallery forest, savanna, forested villages, tea and teak plantations. It is found from lowlands and foothills up  to 2200 m .

Food Habits: Its eats small and large birds, snakes, frogs, lizards and mammals; mammals include squirrels, rats, hares, and occasionally monkeys and tree shrews. Hunts like large goshawk, from concealed perch inside forest, or along forest edge. Prey captured after short rapid stoop. Also scavenges on occasion.

Breeding Habits: They breed in Nov-May in India. Large stick nest built by pair on high fork of large tree; usually in forest, but alternatively in isolated tree. Breeding display consists of pair soaring over territory, constantly calling. They lay a clutch of 1 egg. The incubation is done by female ,for more than 40 days. Chicks are born altricial and fledge after 68 days.