Birda Logo
A photo of a Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides)
Little Eagle

Little Eagle

Hieraaetus morphnoides

The Little Eagle, Hieraaetus morphnoides, is a diminutive raptor native to the vast landscapes of Australia. This medium-sized bird of prey, comparable in stature to the Peregrine Falcon, boasts a wingspan of approximately 120 cm. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with females typically larger and darker than their male counterparts. The Little Eagle is adorned with fully feathered legs and a square-cut, barred tail. Its plumage varies between light and dark morphs, often changing with age. The light form is characterized by a dark brown back and wings, with a paler underside, while the dark morph displays a richer rufous hue.

Identification Tips

When observing the Little Eagle, look for its powerful flight characterized by strong wingbeats, gliding on flat wings, and soaring with wings slightly raised or level. Juveniles resemble adults but are more rufous with less pattern contrast. The legs are fully feathered, a feature that aids in identification.


The Little Eagle favors open woodland, grassland, and arid regions, avoiding dense forests. It thrives in areas where wooded and open spaces intermingle, such as riparian woodlands and forest margins.


This raptor is widespread across Australia, with the exception of the densely forested regions of the Great Dividing Range. Its presence is notable in New South Wales and Victoria, where it was once more commonly sighted.


The Little Eagle is a solitary and elusive bird, often retreating at the first hint of human presence. Its behavior varies from migratory to permanently resident, depending on the individual. Breeding territories are defended with soaring displays, conspicuous perching, and vocalizations.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Little Eagle is used primarily for territory defense and includes a variety of calls that can be heard during its soaring display.


Breeding occurs once annually, with nests typically placed in mature trees. The species lays one to two eggs per season, with an incubation period of around 37 days. Fledging occurs after approximately eight weeks, and maturity is reached in two to three years.

Diet and Feeding

The Little Eagle is an agile hunter, preying on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and occasionally large insects. It has adapted to include rabbits in its diet following their introduction to Australia. The species hunts by soaring or from an elevated perch, swooping down to capture prey.

Conservation status

The Little Eagle is listed as 'Vulnerable' in certain regions, such as the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, due to habitat loss and competition. However, it is classified as 'Least Concern' by the IUCN, with a population decline rate not yet reaching critical thresholds.


Habitat destruction and degradation pose significant threats to the Little Eagle, leading to competition with the larger Wedge-tailed Eagle for food and territory. The decline in rabbit populations, a key food source, due to disease has also impacted the species.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Little Eagles on Birda


More Kites, Hawks, Eagles

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Jake W
Great app
I use this app all the time as it’s quick and easy to log individual sightings or whole birding sessions. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and the forum is full of really friendly people. The challenges are a great way to get involved and learn more about birds. Cannot recommend it enough!
We've been waiting for an App like this
Excellent! We've been waiting for an app like this! Thank you! It would be nice if you could assign additional birds to sessions later!
Just what birding needs
We need more fun in birding, for years it has had a reputation for being up tight and stuffy and only perused by retirees and anoraks. Birda helps change that perception and firmly brings birding into the 21st century! Fun, interactive while still contributing to science and conservation. If you aren’t on it, why not??
Ideal Birdwatch Companion
Simply adds to the enjoyment of my birdwatching and helps me record what I’ve seen.
Robred 2
Fun way to add to your birdwatching experience
I enjoy watching birds in my backyard, but this app helped me really pay attention while on vacation this summer. It was fun to add new birds to my bird watching app.
Gets me outdoors more
I'm still loving this app. I use it most days & gets me outdoors more. Enjoying watching others progress and photo's, it's improved my wellbeing.... I love this app! I can keep a record of sightings and see what others have seen too.
Erna M
I really like Birda
I really like Birda. I also use other birding apps and have Birda with E-bird going at the same time.
Paul F
Very good database
Highly recommend. It great that this app shows you male Vs female variations when posting. Very good database I'm really impressed.
Birda fan
I really enjoy using Birda, all sightings are recorded and photos can be added. There are monthly challenges which help to get you out to record your sightings. The Birda community are great and are happy to help with unidentified bird sightings. Suitable for all ages and experience!
Great app for beginner twitchers
I’ve had a passion of photographing birds for a long time now but have only just gotten into proper birdwatching, and this app is brilliant for those just getting started. There is a great sense of community among users and the app is very easy to use and professional. Awesome app altogether
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
© 2024 All rights reserved