What is a Crowned Eagle?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2020
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A crowned eagle is typically one of two different types of large birds of prey either located in southern Africa or the southern regions of South America. The African crowned eagle, or crowned hawk-eagle, is referred to as Stephanoaetus coronatus, while the South American crowned eagle, or crowned solitary eagle, is classified as Harpyhaliaetus coronatus. They are typically identified by the crest of feathers at the back of the head giving each bird the appearance of a crown. Both types of crowned eagle often feed on small mammals such as monkeys and are often found in forested or jungle areas.

The crowned eagle of Africa is found throughout forested areas of the southern reaches of the continent, typically south of the Sahara. They usually feed on small mammals such as monkeys and even smaller antelopes; though they will feed on lizards and other birds if mammalian food is scarce. A young crowned eagle might also feed on smaller animals such as snakes and lizards more frequently, until growing large enough to easily prey on mammals.


They are typically somewhat sedentary and do not often migrate unless their habitat is destroyed through deforestation or if food is scarce. With large, powerful talons and a body length of around three feet (about one meter), they typically kill during hunting at the moment of impact or shortly thereafter. African crowned eagles typically breed about once every two years and the smaller male will usually attract a female through intricate movements while flying. A pair will often fly together in coordinated movements to indicate their joining. They will then work together to build a large nest or to repair an older abandoned nest.

The South American crowned eagle is found throughout the southern regions of South America, from the middle areas of Brazil down south through Argentina. They are typically found in areas of light forestation and lowland regions, often nesting in trees with a good view of the surrounding area. The crowned eagle of South America usually feeds on small mammals as well as smaller prey such as other birds, reptiles, and even fish.

There is little research or understanding of the breeding and migratory habits of these crowned eagles, and hunting and threats to habitation may be the greatest threat against these birds. They may be hunted or purposefully disturbed in some regions of Argentina, but in most other areas there is not a significant threat against them. Some conservation efforts have been proposed, but these are mostly intended to combat threats to the habitats of these birds.


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