New Guinea Hawk Eagle - Aquila weiskei
Species: A. weiskei
New Guinea Hawk Eagles are relatively small raptors (hence the alternative name of "Pygmy Eagle") that live on New Guinea and the Maluku Islands. They used to be considered a subspecies Aquila morphnoides (Little Eagle), but based on differences in molecular sequence, plumage, and morphology, Aquila weiskei is now classified as a full species.
There are two morph forms of New Guinea Hawk Eagles: pale morphs and dark morphs. Pale morphs have white underwing coverts and a white underside with heavy brown streaks. Dark morphs have brown underwing coverts and a rufous underside, also with dark brown markings. In both morph forms the cheeks, crown, and nape are brown-streaked and the tail has 7-8 black bars.
Wingspan: 112-126 cm
Habitat and Distribution:
They occupy primary, gallery, and monsoon forest from 0-2,100 meters above sea level.
New Guinea Hawk Eagles are found on the islands of New Guinea and the Malukus in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Adults are most likely sedentary throughout their range; their total distribution size and population is currently unknown.
Diet and Hunting:
They are known to attack groups of Gymnocorvus tristis (Grey Crow) for food.
One member of a pair of New Guinea Hawk Eagles was recorded collecting sticks and moss in March, during the wet season. The eggs are white to blue-white and either unmarked or have red-brown streaks. Incubation and nesting periods are unknown, as is the exact breeding season.
They are currently listed as Least Concern by BirdLife International.
Based on research of the molecular sequences of one nuclear intron and two mitochondrial genes, it was found that Aquila weiskei is more closely related to Aquila pennata (Booted Eagle) than it is to A. morphnoides (Little Eagle), of which it is sometimes considered a subspecies. Furthermore, the differences in molecular sequence, plumage, and morphology between A. morphnoides and A. weiskei are as distant as those between uncontested eagle species.
Pygmy Eagle, Guinea Kuifarend (Dutch), Aigle de Weiske (French), Neuguinea-Habichtsadler (German), Elang Kalimantan (Indonesian), Orzelek nowogwinejski (Polish), Orol novoguinejský (Slovak).
BirdLife International (2012) Species factsheet: Hieraaetus weiskei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/01/2012.
Global Raptor Information Network. 2012. Species account: Pygmy Eagle Aquila weiskei. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 28 Jan. 2012
BirdLife International 2009. Hieraaetus weiskei. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 28 January 2012.