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Species Guide

Legge's Hawk-Eagle

Nisaetus kelaarti

The Legge's hawk-eagle, a medium-sized eagle and a fairly large raptor, presents with brown upperparts and contrasting pale underparts. The undersides of its flight feathers and tail exhibit barring, while the breast and belly are heavily streaked. Its wings are broad with a curved trailing edge, and when in flight, they are held in a shallow V shape. Both sexes appear similar, though juveniles may display a whiter head.

Identification Tips

To identify Legge's hawk-eagle, look for unstreaked buff underwing coverts, which distinguish it from the similar mountain hawk-eagle. Adult males typically measure around 70 cm in length, while females are slightly larger at about 76 cm. The species is characterized by large talons indicative of its powerful predatory nature.


This bird of prey is native to mountain woodlands, where it is often seen soaring or perched high in the trees.


Legge's hawk-eagle breeds in the Indian subcontinent, with its range extending from southern India to Sri Lanka.


Despite its modest size, the Legge's hawk-eagle is a formidable predator, known to occasionally pursue prey as heavy or heavier than itself. It builds a stick nest in a tree and typically lays a single egg per clutch.


The breeding habits of Legge's hawk-eagle involve constructing a stick nest within the forest canopy. The species usually lays a single egg, which both parents will then protect and incubate.

Diet and Feeding

Legge's hawk-eagle preys on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. It has been observed hunting prey of considerable size, such as the Indian peafowl, which can weigh between 2.8 to 4 kg.

Conservation status

The Legge's hawk-eagle is currently considered an overlooked threatened species. Conservation efforts are important to ensure the survival of this majestic bird of prey.

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Legge's Hawk-Eagles on Birda

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Mahima Sukhdev
22 Mar 2021 - 3:36pm

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