1211. Spizaetus cirrhatus

1211. Spizaetus cirrhatus.

The Crested Hawk-Eagle.

Falco cirrhatus, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 274 (1788). Falco ceylanensis, Gmel. t. c. p. 275 (1788). Falco cristatellus, Temm. Pl. Col. pl. 282 (1824). Nisaetus cristatellus, Elliot, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 234; Jerdon, Ill. Ind. Orn. text to pl. 1, p. 7. Spizaetus cristatellus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xii, p. 306; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 33. Nisaetus cirratus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 174. Spizaetus limnaetus, var., Blyth, Cat. p. 24. Limnaetus cristatellus, Jerdon, B. 1. i, p. 71. Spizaetus cirrhatus, Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 242; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 206 ; id. S. F. iii, p. 446; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 269; Fair-bank, S. F. iv, p. 253; Hume Bourd. ibid. p. 356; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 147. Spizaetus sphynx, Hume, S. F. i, p. 321. Limnaetus cirrhatus, Gurney, Ibis, 1877, p. 429; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 198; Hume, Cat. no. 35; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 30; Butler, ibid. p. 373 ; Davidson, S. F. x, p. 288; Hume, ibid. p. 336; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 33; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. iii. p. 214. Limnaetus ceylonensis, Gurney, Ibis, 1877, p. 430; 1878, p. 85; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 511; id. Cat. no. 35 bis. Spizaetus ceylonensis, Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 55, pl. ii; Parker, S. F. ix, p. 476. Limnaetus sphynx, Hume, Cat. no. 34 quat.

Shah Baz, H. ; Jutu Bhyri, Tel.; Rajaliya, Cing.

Coloration. Adult. Feathers of head and neck above and at the sides blackish brown, with pale or rufous edges; occipital crest 4 to 6 inches long, black, and, except in very old birds, tipped white; upper parts generally umber-brown, not uniform, some feathers having darker centres or shafts and paler border ; quills brown above, light grey or white below, with blackish bars and tips, inner webs white towards the base ; tail brown above, light grey beneath, usually with 5 blackish cross-bars, more rarely 4, the first concealed by the coverts, the last broadest, followed by a whitish tip; pale interspaces as a rule broader than dark bars, and last pale interspace much broader than the others ; chin and throat white, streaked with black, the black streaks generally forming three longitudinal stripes, one median and two lateral; breast white with large spots, elongate, black, and generally fringed with rufous ; abdomen and lower tail-coverts umber-brown, thighs generally more rufous, and tarsus whitish, the feathers dark-shafted as a rule throughout, especially on the legs ; smaller under wing-coverts dull rufous, brown-shafted; greater lower wing-coverts white with brown cross-bands ; axillaries greyish brown with dark shafts.

Young birds have the head and neck rufous-buff to buffy white, generally but not always with dark centres or shaft-stripes to the feathers, which in some very young birds have white tips; feathers of upper plumage brown, generally pale-edged; quills and tail with more dark bands than in adults, there being 7 on the tail including the subterminal one; lower parts white or buff or pale rufous, generally with a few rufous-brown spots, darker at the shafts; as a rule the flanks, lower abdomen, thigh-coverts, lower tail-coverts, and tarsal feathers are banded with pale rufous and white; traces of this banding are often found in older birds.

Bill dark plumbeous, black at the tip ; cere dark leaden in adult, yellow in young birds; irides leaden grey, pale straw-colour, or golden yellow; feet yellow. The feathers of the tarsus do not extend quite to the base of the toes.

Length of a male about 26 inches ; tail 11; wing 16: of a female—length 29 ; tail 12; wing 17 ; tarsus 4; bill from gape 1.8. Ceylonese and some South Indian birds are considerably smaller and measure : tail 9 to 10.5, wing 13.5 to 15.2. They have been distinguished as Spizaetus ceylonensis, and form a well-marked race, but differing only, like so many animals from the extreme south of India and Ceylon, in size, and therefore I think not to be separated as a distinct species. S. sphynx of Hume, from Travancore, is an old bird of this Southern variety with, as often happens in old birds, no white on the crest.

Distribution. The Peninsula of India and Ceylon in well-wooded tracts. Only an occasional straggler is found on the great Indo-Gangetic plain of Northern India, as in the case of a specimen obtained by Hume at Etawah ; as a rule the northern limit of this bird from Mount Abu to Midnapore in Bengal is the edge of the hilly country.

Habits, &c. Very similar to those of other Indian Spizaeti. This is a forest bird, usually seen on trees, often, as Jerdon says, " on the top of a high tree, where it watches for hares, partridges, young pea-fowl, jungle-fowl, &c., on which it pounces." It also feeds on squirrels, lizards, &c. It but rarely soars, and is more often seen flying through the trees than hovering above them. It has a peculiar prolonged note, like other species of the genus. The habits of the Ceylon race in captivity have been well described by Legge. The nest, placed on a high tree, is a huge structure of sticks, and is lined with green leaves, on which a single egg is laid at some time from December to April. The egg is dull greenish white, unspotted, or faintly streaked at the larger end with reddish brown, and measures on an average 2.67 by 2.03.

The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.3 1895.
Title in Book: 
1211. Spizaetus cirrhatus
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Crested Hawk Eagle
Changeable Hawk-Eagle
Nisaetus cirrhatus
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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