: "Spizaetus melanoleucus" redirect here. This name was also used for the black-breasted eagle buzzard (Geranoaetus melanoleucus or Buteo melanoleucus).
Black and white eagle hawk (Spizaetus melanoleucus, earlier Spizastur melanoleucus) is a species of bird of prey in the family of eagles and hawks (Accipitridae). It is found throughout much of tropical America, from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.
As its name is suggested, it is a black and white eagle, resembling small typical eagles sometimes separated into "Hieraaetus"... It is about 20-24 in (50-60 cm) long overall and weighs about 30 ounces (850 g). The head, neck and body are white, a small crest forms a black spot on top of the head, and the area around the eyes, especially to the bill, is also black. The wings are black, and the bird has a brownish tail, forbidden black and dark gray and with a white tip. Iris orange, legs from pale yellow to bright yellow with black nails. The beak is black with yellow wax.
The sexes are similar in color, but the woman is larger. Immature birds have pale edges on upperwing shelters and some brownish-gray feathers on the back.
The black and white hawk eagle is difficult to confuse with any other bird in its range. Black hawk (Leucopternis melanops) very similar in overall coloration, but it is much smaller and has a black tail with a single bold white bar in the middle. Decorative eagle hawk (Spizaetus ornatus), apparently a very close relative S. melanoleucuslooks pretty similar when young. However, the wings, back and tail are much lighter in a young S. ornatusand they don't have a black ring around their eyes.
Distribution and ecology
This species originates from Oaxaca to Veracruz in southern Mexico to the south throughout Central America, with the exception of most of El Salvador and the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. In South America, it occurs on the Pacific side of the Andes south to Ecuador. Much of its range extends along the Caribbean coast from northern Colombia and Venezuela to Guianas and south through eastern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to NE Argentina, and from there westward again to Beni and Santa Cruz in NE Bolivia. A black and white population of hawk eagles is also found in the Loreto area of NE Peru, it is not known at how far it is isolated from the rest of the bird's range. The species is absent in the western Amazon, and it is not common in lands to the east (eg Minas Gerais).
Its natural habitats are lowland forests of any type, although very dense and humid, and a savanna-like semi-arid habitat is not preferred. Habitat fragmentation is very well tolerated, although the species prefers a diverse mixed forest and shrubland habitat, this requires large canopy stands of forest to flourish. Its range does not extend very far into the highlands, but one person was seen at an altitude of about 4,000 feet (c.1,200 m) ASL in the Buena Vista Nature Reserve in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of Colombia.
The food for this carnivore consists of mammals, toads, squamates and especially a wide variety of birds. Among the latter, it is known to prefer tree-dwelling species such as oropendolas, aracaris, tanagra and cotingas. But land - and waterbirds like tinamous, Chachalakas, cormorants and the highly threatened Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus) was also registered as its booty. The black and white hawk eagle has been known to attack small monkeys, although it is not clear with which intent. As it appears, it has not been recorded to actually kill and eat the monkey.
Its preferred hunting method is to fly high until it has spotted suitable prey and then dives down on it, usually straight into a forest canopy, but this has also been observed to catch a white woodpecker. (Melanerpes candidus)who mobbed him in mid-air after launching himself from his height. It likes to hunt along ridges and forest edges, where it can access the canopy level from the downhill direction, and not just from directly above, and where land-dwelling prey is also more readily available.
It nests in a forest canopy, building a stick nest high in exposed trees on ridges and similar locations, from where good hunting grounds can be observed. Detailed observations regarding his nesting habits are almost non-existent however. In Panama, birds began nesting in September, during the dry rainy season. But the main breeding season may start before the onset of the rainy season as the breeding attempt was abandoned when heavy rains resumed. Scant other data agree with this, and at least in Central America the breeding season appears to run from March to June or so.
There is a general lack of information about the movements of the black and white hawk eagle and the status of the population. Each bird seems to require a hunting area of about 3,500 acres (1,400 nectars) at least. While the variety of habitat types in which it is found suggests that it is not particularly susceptible to land-use changes, it is apparently still a rare and endemic species almost anywhere in its range. The IUCN prior to 2000 classified it as Near Threatened due to the uncertainty surrounding its status, but as no evidence of a marked decline was found and as the bird is found across a wide range, it was downlisted to Species of Least Concern.
Taxonomy and taxonomy
This species is often placed in the monotypic genus Spizasturbut was recently moved to Spizaetus, for example, by the American Birdwatchers Union, as it appears that the ornamental hawk eagle (S. ornatus) is a related taxon. This created some taxonomic confusion that went largely unnoticed, however:
Originally, the name that Spizaetus melanoleucus was given by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillo to the black-breasted buzzard eagle in 1819, while the black-and-white hawk eagle was described in 1816 by the same scholar as Buteo melanoleucus... The former variety was placed in Geranoaetus - also a monotypic genus - in 1844, while the black and white hawk eagle was moved from Buteo and in Spizastur a few years earlier.
Thus, identical definite epithets never came into direct conflict until recently. But the placement of the black-breasted eagle buzzard in the monotypic genus has always been contested, and several authors have considered it in Buteo... However, they forgot that Buteo melanoleucus was the real name of the black and white hawk eagle and thus as an older homonym could not be applied to the later described species. Correct proper name for black-breasted eagle buzzard when placed in Buteo, Buteo fuscescenswas rebuilt in the middle of the 20th century in a short time more accidentally than anything else, as most of the late 20th century explorers argued for preserving Geranoaetus, this name was dismissed as erroneous and essentially forgotten.
Since the black and white hawk eagle was not housed in Buteosince long, Article 59.3 of the ICZN Code applies. According to this, junior homonym, replaced before 1961, not granted permanently invalid (as minor homonyms are usually) unless "the replacement name is used" - which took place after the 1963 revision of Amadon. Hence, in this case, the scientific name, Buteo melanoleucus may refer to the black-breasted eagle buzzard, even though the black and white hawk eagle has been described under exactly that name earlier, while the older homonym melanoleucus still belongs to the latest varieties when placed in Spizaetus according to the usual ICZN rules. Hence, the proper name to be used for each bird has become, through many coincidences, an older synonym for other species.