Wallace’s hawk-eagle (Spizaetus nanus)

Wallace's hawk-eagle perched on branch
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Wallace’s hawk-eagle fact file

Wallace’s hawk-eagle description

GenusSpizaetus (1)

Wallace’s hawk-eagle is a small, boldly-patterned bird of prey. The head is orangey-brown, with blackish streaks, and a dark crest with white tips sticks up from the back of the head. The upperparts are very dark brown, and the underparts are buffish-white with narrow, dark barring (2) (3). There are two subspecies; unlike Spizaetus nanus nanus, Spizaetus nanus stresemanni juveniles have white heads and underparts (2). It is frequently confused with Blyth’s hawk-eagle, (S. alboniger), making this species’ status hard to determine (1).

Aguila-azor de Wallace.
Length: 43 – 58 cm (2)
500 – 610 g (2)

Wallace’s hawk-eagle biology

This efficient predator feeds on birds, bats, lizards and skinks (2). Pairs of Wallace’s hawk-eagles inhabit territories all year round, in which a nest is constructed (4). Very few nests of this hawk-eagle have ever been observed, but they have all been situated up tall trees, and generally deep inside a forest (4).


Wallace’s hawk-eagle range

S.n. nanus ranges from southern Burma and southern Thailand, through the Malay Peninsular to Sumatra and Borneo (2). S.n. stresemanni occurs only on Nias Island, off west Sumatra (2).


Wallace’s hawk-eagle habitat

Wallace’s hawk-eagle inhabits lowland evergreen forest (2). It has been recorded in both primary forest and heavily logged areas (4).


Wallace’s hawk-eagle status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Wallace’s hawk-eagle threats

Wallace’s hawk-eagle is increasingly threatened by the loss of its lowland rainforest habitat (2), which in some parts of its range is occurring at a staggering rate (4). Commercial logging and forest clearance for rubber and palm oil plantations are responsible for this rapid habitat loss (1). In Thailand, virtually all the lowland forest has now been cleared. Despite being observed in logged areas, this bird appears to require tall trees for nesting, and thus the loss of lowland rainforests throughout its range is likely to result in the loss of this species (4). The subspecies S.n. stresemanni was last recorded on the island of Nias in the last remnant of lowland forest on the island. This small patch of rainforest, surrounded by cultivated areas, was continuing to be encroached upon, suggesting that soon it would be cleared, and the subspecies may be unlikely to survive for much longer (4).


Wallace’s hawk-eagle conservation

Wallace’s hawk-eagle occurs in numerous protected areas, such as Thaleban National Park in Thailand, Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah, and Gunang Leuser National Park in Sumatra (4), which probably offer variable protection. Surveys of remaining extreme lowland primary forest and efforts to conserve the remaining habitat have been urgently recommended (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on Wallace’s hawk-eagle see:



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Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. BirdLife International (September, 2007)
  4. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Image credit

Wallace's hawk-eagle perched on branch  
Wallace's hawk-eagle perched on branch

© Joe Pan

Joe Pan
C/o Ladang Hangsam
See Hoy Chan Plantations (Sabah) Sdn. Bhd.
P O Box 60558
91114 Lahad Datu


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