Cassin's Hawk Eagle - Aquila africana | The Eagle Directory

Cassin's Hawk Eagle - Aquila africana

Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Aquila
Species: A. africana

Cassin's Hawk Eagles are small eagles that live in western and west-central Africa. They form a clade with Aquila audax (Wedge-Tailed Eagle), A. chrysaetos (Golden Eagle), A. fasciata (Bonelli’s Eagle), A. gurneyi (Gurney’s Eagle), and A. verreauxii (Verreaux’s Eagle).

Physical Description:

Adults are dark brown from above, with feathers that are white at the base and black-tipped. The tail is brown with three black bars and a broad black subterminal band. The legs are white with black markings, and the underside is white with black patches along the sides of the chest. The eyes are yellow-brown, the cere and feet are pale yellow, and the beak and talons are black.

Juveniles have a brown head with black streaking along the throat and crown, dark brown wings with white-tipped secondary feathers, and white to cream underwing coverts. The breast is rufous and the belly and flanks have heavy black spotting. The tail is dark gray with a white tip and dark barring, and the undertail coverts are white.

Their call is a shrill whistle. Listen to a Cassin’s Hawk Eagle.


Length: 50-61 cm
Weight: 0.9-1.2 kg

Habitat and Distribution:

Cassin’s Hawk Eagles inhabit tropical, secondary, and gallery forest, from 0-2,300 meters above sea level.

They live throughought western and west-central Africa, from Sierra Leone and Liberia to Uganda, Zaire, and northwestern Angola. There are approximately 1,000-10,000 individuals over a range of 2,480,000 km². Adults are sedentary, though juveniles disperse from breeding areas.

Diet and Hunting:

Birds and tree squirrels have been recorded in the stomachs of some specimens. Their hunting methods have not been described.


The nest is built out of sticks and placed high up in a tree and it is lined with green leaves. Eggs are laid from October-December in Ghana and Gabon, and during December in Uganda. Clutch size is 1-2 eggs.


Aquila africana is currently listed as Least Concern by BirdLife International. Despite a decreasing population, Cassin's Hawk Eagles have a large range and their population decline is not rapid enough for Vulnerable status.


Cassin’s Hawk Eagles were formerly placed in the genera Cassinaetus, Hieraaetus, and Spizaetus, but are currently considered part of Aquila. Based on the molecular sequences of one nuclear and two mitochondrial genes, Aquila africana has been found to form a clade with A. audax (Wedge-Tailed Eagle), A. chrysaetos (Golden Eagle), A. fasciata (Bonelli’s Eagle), A. gurneyi (Gurney’s Eagle), and A. verreauxii (Verreaux’s Eagle).

Other Names:

Orel africký (Czech), Skovhøgeørn (Danish), Cassins Kuifarend (Dutch), Kongo kotkas (Estonian), Afrikanjalokotka (Finnish), Aigle de Cassin (French), Schwarzachseladler (German), Spizaeto di Cassin (Italian), Afurikakumataka (Japanese), Kongoskogørn (Norwegian), Wojownik bialobrzuchy (Polish), Águila-azor Congoleña (Spanish), Cassins tofsörn (Swedish).

Video of a Cassin's Hawk Eagle:

BirdLife International (2011) Species factsheet: Aquila africanus. Downloaded from on 02/12/2011.
Global Raptor Information Network. 2011. Species account: Cassin's Hawk-eagle Aquila africana. Downloaded from on 2 Dec. 2011
BirdLife International 2009. Aquila africanus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. Downloaded on 02 December 2011.
Ferguson-Lees, James, and Christie, David A. Raptors of the World. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.