Legge's Hawk Eagle - Nisaetus kelaarti | The Eagle Directory

Legge's Hawk Eagle - Nisaetus kelaarti

Legge's Hawk Eagle (Nisaetus kelaarti)

Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Nisaetus
Species: N. kelaarti

Legge's Hawk Eagles live in southwestern India and Sri Lanka. They are sometimes considered part of Nisaetus nipalensis (Mountain Hawk Eagle), but other authorities treat them as a full species. They form a clade with N. alboniger (Blyth's Hawk Eagle), N. bartelsi (Javan Hawk Eagle), N. nanus (Wallace's Hawk Eagle), and N. nipalensis.

Physical Description:

No information.


No information.

Habitat and Distribution:

They live in primary evergreen forest and forest patches.

Their range is from southwestern India to Sri Lanka. There are an estimated 2,500 individuals. Adults are thought to be sedentary, based on the shape of their wings.

Diet and Hunting:

They eat mammals, probably more so than the closely-related Nisaetus nipalensis, due to their having a longer bill and hind claws. The shape of the wing may also be an adaptation to hunting within forests.


No information.


Suggested categorization is Near Threatened, but due to a small, declining population and the fact they prefer large areas of undisturbed primary rainforest, it is likely they will be listed as Vulnerable in the future. However, BirdLife International does not recognize Nisaetus kelaarti as a separate species and considers it to be part of Nisaetus nipalensis. (See below Taxonomy.)


Nisaetus kelaarti is treated as a subspecies of Nisaetus nipalensis (Mountain Hawk Eagle) by some authorities, but others have argued that N. kelaarti is a full species because of differences in plumage, morphology, vocalization, and DNA sequences. Due to the lack of consensus, it is tentatively treated as a full species here. N. kelaarti forms a clade with N. alboniger (Blyth's Hawk Eagle), N. bartelsi (Javan Hawk Eagle), N. nanus (Wallace's Hawk Eagle), and N. nipalensis.

Nisaetus was formerly considered part of Spizaetus, but molecular studies have shown that Asian hawk eagles are part of a different lineage than that of New World hawk eagles (Spizaetus) and have been assigned the genus Nisaetus.

Other Names:

Beautiful Crested Eagle, Ceylon Mountain Hawk Eagle, Feather-Toed Hawk Eagle, Aigle de Legge (French).

Other Multimedia:

None available.


BirdLife International (2011) Species factsheet: Nisaetus kelaarti. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/12/2011.
Global Raptor Information Network. 2011. Species account: Legge's Hawk-eagle Nisaetus kelaarti. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 28 Dec. 2011