Portrait of an eagle: Changeable Hawk Eagle

on 16th August 2007


The Changeable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus) found in this part of the world is the subspecies limnaeetus. It is crestless and is found from the Himalayan foothills down through Southeast Asia into Greater Sundas to Philippines. This subspecies is polymorphic, with a dark and a pale morph (above).


The sexes are similar but the female is slightly larger. The juvenile (pale morph) is distinct, with its head and underparts largely white (left). Juveniles begin to breed in the third year and become fully adult in fourth year or later.

The adult pale morph is brown above, with pale edges, especially on wing coverts. The pale brown tail has a thin whitish tip, broad blackish subterminal band and three to four other narrower, browner and often much more obscure bars. The white to buff area of the throat to breast and upper belly and flanks are more or less boldly streaked with black to dark brown.

The adult dark morph is entirely blackish-brown, including the uppertail, the inner half being greyer.

The wings are shortish, with the wing tips about one-third to half down tail; tail long and thinly-banded.

Legs are long, feathered; appearing spindly because of the short tibial feathering.

The bird perches upright, especially in the early morning and afternoon. It stays for long periods waiting patiently for prey. These may include squirrels, birds, snakes and lizards.

During mornings, the eagle soars alone or in pairs, taking advantage of the thermals.

Mark Chua
August 2007

(Images by Mark Chua except the dark morph eagle by Chan Yoke Meng.)

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)