Accipitridae (eagles, kites, hawks…)

Number of genera: 73
Number of species: 252
Number of species completed: 56
In French: page des aigles, buses, éperviers en Français


This family is one of the largest among the non-passerines. They are all mainly or exclusively meat-eater but some a primarily hunters while others are scavengers. They are found Worldwide and size range from diminutive Tiny Hawk, hardly bigger than the small passerines it eats to the huge Cinereous (also called Eurasian Black or Monk) Vulture with a wingspan of about 3 meters.

Accipitridae is sister to Pandionae (ospreys).


Genus Elanus – 4 species

This genus and the two next, best grouped in a sub-family (Elaninae) are basal of the of the whole family Accipitridae. Letter-winged Kite is a very distinct species that is uncommon and endemic while the three others are common and belong to the same super-species (or species-group).

One species occur in America, another one in most of Old World and two species exist only in Australia.

* Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
* Black-shouldered Kite Elanus axillaris, E. (Australia)
White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus – NA
Letter-winged Kite Elanus scriptus – SPECIAL T., E. (Australia)


Genus Gampsonyx – 1 species

This distinctive genus was found sister to Elanus by genetic.

It is widespread in the Neotropics, not threatened as adapted to degraded habitats and even locally common.

Pearl Kite Gampsonyx swainsonii – NA

Genus Chelictinia – 1 species

This species was sometimes included in Elanus. It shares many similarities, but the tail shape and behaviour are distinctive.

It is restricted to sub-saharan Africa, mainly North of the Ecuador.

Scissor-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourii – NA


Genus Polyboroides – 2 species

This original genus is part of a clade that includes Palm-nut Vulture, Egyptian Vulture and Bearded Vulture, all three belong to a monotypic genus. They are all, more or less, related to honey-buzzards.

The two closely related species (sometimes lumped in one) are allopatric, one being widespread in continental Africa, south of the Sahara, and the other one is endemic to Madagascar.

* African Harrier-hawk Polyboroides typus – photo above
Madagascan Harrier-hawk Polyboroides radiatus – NA, E (Madagascar)


Genus Gypohierax – 1 species

Very original monotypic genus, distinct genetically. It is vaguely related to Polyboroides, Neophron and Gypaetus. All four deserve to be grouped in a tribe or even a sub-family.

Palm-nut Vulture is restricted to Africa, south of the Sahara where it is locally common, especially in the West.

* Palm-nut Vulture Gypohierax angolensis


Genus Neophron – 1 species

Although its behaviour recall that of several true vultures, and morphology is somewhat similar to Necrosyrtes, this species is sister to Gypaetus. This was noticed by morphological analysis and now confirmed by genetic

It is widespread is Eurasia and Africa, but the general decrease of the species has led to range contraction, notably in Africa, south of the Sahara. It is still locally common, notably in Middle-East, in Spain and in the Himalayas.

* Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterusENDANGERED


Genus Gypaetus – 1 species

This bird is unique in morphology and behaviour and affinities were long disputed. Genetics found is sister with Neophron, but it is still a very distinct, monotypic genus.

Its range is big but very fragmented and populations are low. It did not decrease as dramatically as most vulture species, but partly thanks to conservation and reintroduction efforts in Europe. It is still a weak species that might be soon threatened.

Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus – SPECIAL TARGET

Genus Eutriorchis – 1 species

This is very distinctive species whose position in the list was long disputed. It seems vaguely related to honey-buzzards, thus placed in Perninae sub-family with the following 8 genera.

It is a rare and declining endemic to Madagascar.

Madagascan Serpent-Eagle Eutriorchis astur – SP T, ENDAN, EN. (Madagascar)

Genus Chondrohierax – 2 species

This is another very distinctive genus with unusual morphology. Taxa within the species are sometimes split or lumped, such the Cuban Kite, one of the rarest raptor on Earth, that is sometimes considered as a sub-species of Hook-billed Kite.

Chondrohierax is mainly restricted to the Neotropics, marginally reaching the Nearctic region, North to extreme southern Texas (USA).

Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus – NA
Cuban Kite Chondrohierax wilsoni – SPECIAL T., CRIT., E (Cuba)

Genus Leptodon – 2 species

This genus doesn’t look so special at first sight, but genetic place it as sister to Chondrohierax. Two species were formerly lumped in one, but they are actually very distinct, enough that a suggestion they might not even belong to the same genus was sometimes raised.

It is restricted to the Neotropics, and White-collared Kite is a very rare endemic to North-East Brazil.

Grey-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis – NA
White-collared Kite Leptodon forbesi – SPECIAL T, ENDAN, E (Brazil)


Genus Elanoides – 1 species

This unusual species has long been believed related to Elanus et Chelictinia, but it seems to be closer to honey-buzzards, according to genetic studies.

It is widespread in tropical America, from Southern USA to Northern Argentina.

Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus – NA


Genus Pernis – 4 species

This genus has a complicated taxonomy. Taxon orientalis, once included in Pernis apivorus, as it looks very similar, is widely accepted to be more closely related to Pernis ptilorhynchus despite different shape (such the lack of crest) and behaviour (it is a long distance migrant). It might deserve a status of monotypic species. Barred and Philippine Honey-Buzzard were considered conspecific in the past. Those 4 (or 5) species forms a clade that doesn’t include the other honey-buzzards (Henicopernis).

It is a genus very widespread in the Old World but being only a winter visitor into Africa

* European Honey-Buzzard Pernis apivorus
* Crested Honey-Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus – NA
Barred Honey-Buzzard Pernis celebensis – SPECIAL T., E (Indonesia)
Philippine Honey-Buzzard Pernis steerei – SPECIAL T., E (Philippines)

Genus Hamirostra – 1 species

This is a very distinct genus within Perninae subfamily. Unlike previous and next genera, it is an opportunistic and powerful hunter and scavenger.

Its range is limited to Australia where it is uncommon and tends to decrease.

Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosternon – SP, E (Australia)

Genus Lophoictinia – 1 species

This kite superficially recalls Milvus and Haliastur but it is specialised in hunting small birds, especially young ones in the nest as well as their eggs. It is, therefore, the equivalent in Australia of Polyboroides (harrier+hawks) of Africa and Geranospiza (Crane Hawk) of the Americas.

It is a rare and declining endemic to Australia that probably deserves a threatened status.

Square-tailed Kite Lophoictinia isura – SP, E (Australia)

Genus Henicopernis – 2 species

These two closely related (sometimes lumped) honey-buzzards form a clade with the two previous genera and not with Pernis.

Long-tailed Honey-Buzzard is a common raptor in New Guinea, but Black Honey-Buzzard is a rare and declining endemic species of New Britain (in the Bismark archipelago).

Long-tailed Honey-Buzzard Henicopernis longicauda – NA
Black Honey-Buzzard Henicopernis infuscatus – SP, VULN., E (Bismarck)


Genus Aviceda – 5 species

This is a distinct genus, linked to Perninae by genetics. Most species are similar-looking in shape and closely related to each-other, but Black Baza is different and somewhat spectacular.

These species cover most of Africa, southern Asia and parts of Oceania.

* African Cuckoo-Hawk Aviceda cuculoides
Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk Aviceda madagascariensis – NA, END. (Madagascar)
Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni – SPECIAL TARGET
* Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata
Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes – NA


Genus Sarcogyps – 1 species

This species is part of a clade with the three following ones, all being very distinct and placed in their monotypic genus. Their belong to Gypinae subfamily.

It is a rare and declining species of southern Asia.

Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus – SPECIAL T., CRITICALLY ENDAN.


Genus Trigonoceps – 1 species

It is somehow the Afro-tropical equivalent of Red-headed Vulture ; it is part of the same clade (they might be sister) and share some similarities in size, shape and behaviour. In the past, it was placed in the same genus than the two next species by some authors.

Its population dropped alarmingly as well ; one widespread south of the Sahara, it is now rare and localised and it might go extinct, as well as most other species, if proper action to protect the vultures is not taken widely.

* White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalisCRITICALLY ENDANGERED


Genus Aegypius – 1 species

Cinereous Vulture, also called Eurasian Black Vulture or Monk Vulture, is arguably the largest Accipitridae on Earth. It is certainly sister to the next species, but sufficiently distinct to deserve a different genus.

It is widespread in Eurasia and less declining than most other vultures.

* Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus


Genus Torgos – 1 species

It forms a clade with the three previous species and, as all of them, it constitutes a monotypic genus. Well distinct, it is clearly closer to previous species than any other.

This is a large, unmistakable vulture of Africa and Middle-East, always in low densities and declining.

* Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotosENDANGERED


Genus Necrosyrtes – 1 species

Despite its small size and some morphological similarities with some of the previous genera as well as with Neophron, this species is related to Gyps.

It is another dangerously declining species of Africa, south of the Sahara.

* Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachusCRITICALLY ENDANGERED


Genus Gyps – 8 species

These are the typical vultures, with several species closely related. Despite large size and beak, there are related to the little Hooded Vulture.

They are widespread in Africa and Eurasia, but all are declining and most are even in alarming situation.

* White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus – SPECIAL T., CRITICALLY ENDAN.
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis – SPECIAL T., CRITICALLY ENDAN.
* Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis
* Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
* Rueppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppelliCRITICALLY ENDAN.
Cape Vulture Gyps coprotheres – SPECIAL T., ENDANGERED
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris – – SPECIAL T., CRITICALLY ENDAN.
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus – SPECIAL T., CRITICALLY ENDAN.


Genus Spilornis – 6 species

This genus is well distinct from others, although clearly in a clade (put here in a subfamily, Circaetinae) with Circaetus and two very special monotypic genera. The limit betweem the species are disputed, and some list up to 13 different species, most that are lacking below are considered here as subspecies of Crested Serpent Eagle.

Their are sharp hunters of reptiles and other vertebrates (eating more occasionally also invertebrates as almost all raptors) widespread in Southern Asia.

* Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela
* Philippine Serpent Eagle Spilornis holospilusE (Philippines)
Great Nicobar Serpent Eagle Spilornis klossi – ON, E (Nicobar)
Mountain Serpent Eagle Spilornis kinabaluensis – SP, VULN, E (Borneo)
Sulawesi Serpent Eagle Spilornis rufipectus – ON, E (Indonesia)
Andaman Serpent Eagle Spilornis elgini – ON, E (Andaman)

Genus Pithecophaga – 1 species

This huge and spectacular eagle is unique in its kind and, altough it shares very superficial similarities with harpies, it is actually more related to snake eagles.

It is a extremely rare and threatened endemic to the Philippines, where it is the national bird and subject to conservation efforts. In local languages, it is known as Haring Ibon, the king of the birds.

Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi – SP CRIT., E (Philippines)


Genus Terathopius – 1 species

Although not huge as the previous species, it is also a extraordinary and very spectacular species. It is sister to Circaetus but doesn’t look like it. Most of its morphological details as well as its behaviour are unique.

It is widespread in Africa, south of the Sahara, where it is still locally common but unfortunately decreasing like most raptors and many other birds.

* Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus


Genus Circaetus – 7 species

This is a quite homogeneous genus, except for one species. It is closest to Theratopius and more distantly related to serpent eagles despite similar diet.

The three first listed species below were considered conspecific in the past. Congo Serpent Eagle was placed in a monotypic genus, Dryotriorchis, as it is small and has a different shape ; it was included in Circaetus by genetic.

Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus – NA
Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle Circaetus beaudouiniVULNERABLE
* Black-chested Snake Eagle Circaetus pectoralis
* Brown Snake Eagle Circaetus cinereus
* Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens
Southern Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus fasciolatus – SPECIAL T.
Congo Serpent Eagle Circaetus spectabilis – SPECIAL T.

Genus Macheiramphus – 1 species

This very unusual and spectacular species is part of a clade with the three huge eagles that a following, here below. It, however, a totally different size and morphology, as well as diet a habits: it is a crepuscular bird that is an agile hunter of bats.

It is a very widespread raptor: it occurs in Africa, southern Asia and even reaching Oceania in New Guinea, but it is usually uncommon to rare.

Bat Hawk Macheiramphus alcinus – NA

Genus Harpyopsis – 1 species

This bird and two next are the “harpy eagles”, very large size species found in tropical forests that form, together with the aberrant Bat Hawk, a clade that have apparently separated from the “true” or “booted” eagles about 20 millions of years ago. All are very distinct and therefore placed in their own, monotypic genus.

It is a widespread but declining species endemic to New Guinea.

Papuan Eagle Harpyopsis novaeguineae – SP, VULN, E. (New Guinea)


Genus Harpia – 1 species

This is the largest species of the clade than can, amazingly, cohabits with the next species. Big size can be a way to manage the sympatry with the next, smaller species, Indeed, usually, large predators with similar ecological niche cannot be found together.

It is widespread but generally rare (less so in Amazonia) and declining in the Neotropics, from Southern Mexico to Northern Argentina.

Harpy Eagle Harpia harpyja – SPECIAL TARGET

Genus Morphnus – 1 species

Although smaller than previous, it is still a very large eagle, related to the two other “harpies” above, as well as the bizarre Bat Hawk. All four are clearly separated from the next clade (the following 10 genera) and might deserve a subfamily, Harpiinae.

As Harpy Eagle, it is widespread but rare in the Neotropics. Its range is somewhat smaller and more fragmented ; it is unclear if it occurs in Mexico and doesn’t reach Argentina. In addition, it seems absent for large areas between the Atlantic forest of Brazil and Amazonia where Harpy Eagle occurs.

Crested Eagle Morphnus guianensis – SPECIAL TARGET


Genus Stephanoaetus – 1 species

This species is unique and it is difficult to find the closest relatives. It is now clear than it is not part of the harpy eagles tribe/sub-family and more related to Nisaetus et Spizaetus.

It is a widespread an still fairly common (for a large eagle) in Africa, south of the Sahara.

* Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus


Genus Nisaetus – 9 species

Those middle sized to large eagles were usually placed in Spizaetus, but it is now proven than they form a different clade. They are true eagles, thus placed in Aquilini tribe.

All species are from Southern Asia and several are rare threatened endemics.

Legge’s Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus kelaarti – NA
Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus lanceolatus – ON REQUEST., E (Indonesia)
* Pinsker’s Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus pinskeriENDAN, (Philippines)
* Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus
Flores Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus floris – SP. T, CRIT., E (Indonesia)
Philippine Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus philippensis – SP, ENDAN, (Philippines)
Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus nanus – NA, VULNERABLE
Mountain Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus nipalensis – NA
Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus alboniger – NA, photo above
Javan Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus bartelsi – SP, ENDAN., E (Java)


Genus Spizaetus – 4 species

Formerly a large worldwide genus, Spizaetus now groups only 4 species of the Neotropics. All former Spizaetus from Asia are now put in Nisaetus, and the only African one, Cassins’s Hawk-Eagle, is actually an Aquila. In opposite. Black-and-chestnut Eagle was having its monotypic genus (Oroaetus) but now considered as Spizaetus.

This last species is rare and endangered, restricted to some mountains of South America while the 3 others are widespread and locally common in most of the Neotropical region.

Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus – NA
Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus melanoleucus – NA
Ornate Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus ornatus – NA, photo above
Black-and-chestnut Eagle Spizaetus isidori – SPECIAL TARGET, ENDAN.


Genus Lophotriorchis – 1 species

This eagle has been placed with Hieraaetus and Spizaetus (when Nisaetus was also included in it) but both solution are wrong. It is closer to Spizaetus than to Nizaetus, but it is mainly related to the six next genera, which probably means it is basal to all. The position in a monotypic genus is now widely accepted.

It has a wide but fragmented range in South and South-East Asia where it is locally common for an eagle.

Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii – NA


Genus Polemaetus – 1 species

Unique huge eagle only distantly related to other species. It has been accepted as a monotypic genus since very long time although sometimes believed close to harpy eagles.

It is widespread in Africa, south of the Sahara. It was formerly reasonably common for such a large raptor but it is now decreasing alarmingly. Causes of decline are multiple and it might survive soon only in largest national parks of Southern and Eastern Africa.

* Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosusVULNERABLE


Genus Lophaetus – 1 species

This is a very distinct species, morphologically and genetically. It is just vaguely related to the two next genera.

It is widespread and often common in Africa, south of the Sahara. It is known to eat rats rather than chicken and thus often left in peace by villagers.

* Long-crested Eagle Lophaetus occipitalis


Genus Ictinaetus – 1 species

This species is sister to all spotted eagles (Clanga) thus probably basal of them and clearly deserve a separate genus unless included, with previous genus and spotted eagles, in Aquila.

It is a widespread and relatively common (for a large eagle) species in Southern Asia. It is therefore not considered at risk.

Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis – NA


Genus Clanga – 3 species

This genus was traditionally included within Aquila but it was proven sister to Ictinaetus and the clade formed by these two is sister to Lophoaetus. Another option can be to include all these genera with Hieraaetus in Aquila. The break up proposed here is now the modern classification that we follow.

Lesser Spotted Eagle of Western Eurasia (wintering in Africa) and Indian Spotted Eagle of Southern Asia were considered conspecific. Hybrids between Lesser Spotted Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagle (widespread in Eurasia, wintering in Europe, Africa and Southern Asia) are regularly reported.

Indian Spotted-Eagle Clanga hastata – NA, VULN
* Lesser Spotted-Eagle Clanga pomarina – NA
Greater Spotted-Eagle Clanga clanga – NA, VULN


Genus Hieraaetus – 5 species

The position of some species, especially Wahlberg’s Eagle, between Aquila and Hieraaetus has been changed several times in the past. Now we know that Hieraaetus and Aquila are closely related and, to keep them as separated genera, the three Clanga species had to be removed from Aquila. Some former Hieraatus, namely Bonelli’s Eagle and African Hawk-Eagle, have proven to be true Aquila.

The genus is widespread in the Old World, especially in Africa that holds three of the five species.

* Wahlberg’s Eagle Hieraaetus wahlbergi
Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle Hieraaetus ayresii – NA
Pygmy Eagle Hieraaetus weiskei – NA
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus – NA,
Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides – NA, E (Australia)


Genus Aquila – 11 species

Classification of this fairly large genus has long be moving. It is sister to Hieraaetus and not to Clanga. Several species believed to belong to other genera are now Aquila: Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle (former Spizaetus), Wedge-tailed Eagle (former monotypic Uroaetus), Bonelli’s Eagle and African Hawk-Eagle (both formerly in Hieraaetus).

 In reverse, some former Aquila are now separated, noticeably Wahlberg’s Eagle and the three Clanga.

Most species are found in Africa and Eurasia while only one, Golden Eagle, occur in (northern) America and two endemic exist in Oceania.

* Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis
* Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
Spanish Imperial-Eagle Aquila adalberti – SPECIAL T.
Eastern Imperial-Eagle Aquila heliaca – NA
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos – NA
Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle Aquila africana – NA
Gurney’s Eagle Aquila gurneyi – SP
* Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax
Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii – NA
Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciata – NA
African Hawk-Eagle Aquila spilogaster – NA


Genus Kaupifalco – 1 species

This is a unique genus in Africa, recalling some Netropical hawks such Rupornis. It is related to the next species and chanting goshawks with which it is better grouped in a tribe (Melieraxini) separated from the “true” hawks, Accipitrini.

It is widespread and locally common in Africa, south of the Sahara.

* Lizard Buzzard Kaupifalco monogrammicus


Genus Micronisus – 1 species

This hawk recalls superficially a “true” sparrowhawk or goshawk (genus Accipiter) but morphological studies have shown that is not closely related to them but rather to previous genus and chanting-goshawks. Genetic confirms that. The fact that is is dimorphic (there is a grey morph and a black morph) is also original among the small raptors.

It is a secretive but often common and widespread species of Africa, south of the Sahara.

* Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar


Genus Melierax – 3 species

This is a distinct, homogeneous genus with one species (Dark Chanting-Goshawk) more distinct and basal to others (two allo-species, formerly conspecific) with which it is locally sympatric. They are clearly related to the two previous genera.

It is a genus of Africa that is locally common, but North African population is on the verge of extinction.

* Dark Chanting-Goshawk Melierax metabates
Eastern Chanting-Goshawk Melierax poliopterus
Pale Chanting-Goshawk Melierax canorus – NA

Lophospiza – 2 species

These two species are usually included in Accipiter but they are actually not at all related to them. As we explain in its chapter, the genus Accipiter might be completely reorganize in different genera, but all species listed there would be still related to each other. The two species of Lophospiza are probably much closer to eagles. The position here is thus provisional but as John Boyd already place them in their own subfamily, it was a minimum to separate them as a different genus, waiting for a more definitive classification.

They are both Southern Asian species, usually fairly common.

Crested Goshawk Lophospiza trivirgata – NA, photo above
Sulawesi Goshawk Lophospiza griseiceps – SPECIAL T., END. (Indonesia)

Genus Erythrotriorchis – 2 species

These two goshawks are clearly different than “usual” Accipiter in morphology and accepted since long in a separate genus.

One (Red Goshawk) is a uncommon and declining species from Northern Australia and the other is a very little known species from New Guinea.

Chestnut-shouldered Goshawk Erythrotriorchis buergersi – SP, E (New Guinea)
Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus – SP, E (Australia)

Genus Megatriorchis – 1 species

As the Chestnut-shouldered Goshawk above, this species is an extremely little-known hawk of New Guinea. It deserves a monotypic genus as it is different from all others in several ways.

Doria’s Goshawk Megatriorchis doriae – SP, E (New Guinea)

Genus Urotriorchis – 1 species

This gorgeous raptor is restricted to the forest zone of Africa. Confirmation is needed, but it is probably closer to the chanting-goshawks than to the Accipiter.

Long-tailed Hawk Urotriorchis macrourus – SPECIAL TARGET

Genus Accipiter – 49 species

This genus should be split is several ones, but some cases are not yet clear, and names to be given to them are also disputed. We provisionally keep the whole genus as it used to be except for Lophospiza, but showing the genera suggested by John Boyd that often proved to be right in his past suggestions of new classification.

(Sub)genus Hieraspiza – 2 species

The genus Hieraspiza seems valid, but as it is not yet clear with which other genera are going it affinities, we keep it Accipiter for now. It is restricted to the Neotropics.

Tiny Hawk Accipiter superciliosus – NA
Semicollared Hawk Accipiter collaris – SPECIAL TARGET


(Sub)genus Aerospiza – 3 species

These 3 forest goshawks of Africa seem to have separated from the rest of the clade (the following genera including Circus) about 15 millions of years ago, thus it is probably consistent to make put them in a separate genus.

All three are fairly common but they can be elusive, especially the Chestnut-flanked Sparrowhawk, being one of the most difficult Accipitridae to see in Africa.

Chestnut-flanked Sparrowhawk Accipiter castanilius – SPECIAL TARGET
Red-chested Goshawk Accipiter toussenelii – NA
* African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro


(Sub)genus Tachyspiza – 27 species

Compared to the remaining Accipiter and potential Astur, below, the 27 species listed here form a different clade. The name Tachyspiza is not confirmed though, and Leucospiza might have priority.

It is widespread in Asia, especially South-East, and Oceania. In Africa, there are only 3 breeding species. However, the two small species listed on top here below might be basal of the (sub)genus, indicating a possible African origin.

Red-thighed Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythropus – SP
Little Sparrowhawk Accipiter minulla – NA
Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis – NA
Besra Accipiter virgata – NA
Dwarf Sparrowhawk Accipiter nana – SP, E (Sulawesi)
Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk Accipiter rhodogaster – SP, E (Indonesia)
Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk Accipiter erythrauchen – SP, E (Indonesia)
Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephala – NA
* Shikra Accipiter badius
Nicobar Sparrowhawk Accipiter butleri – SP, VULN, E (Nicobar)
Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes – NA
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis – NA
Frances’s Sparrowhawk Accipiter francesiae – NA
Spot-tailed Sparrowhawk Accipiter trinotata – NA, E (Indonesia)
Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae – NA, E (Australia), photo above
Variable Goshawk Accipiter hiogaster – NA
New Britain Sparrowhawk Accipiter brachyura – SP, VULN, E (New Britain)
Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciata – NA
Black-mantled Goshawk Accipiter melanochlamys – SP, E (New Guinea)
Pied Goshawk Accipiter albogularis – NA., E (Solomon)
White-bellied Goshawk Accipiter haplochroa – SP, E (New Caledonia)
Fiji Goshawk Accipiter rufitorques – SP, E (Fiji)
Moluccan Goshawk Accipiter henicogramma – SP., VULN., E (Indonesia)
Slaty-mantled Goshawk Accipiter luteoschistacea – SP, VULN., E (Bismarck)
Imitator Goshawk Accipiter imitator – SP, VULN, E (Solomon)
Grey-headed Goshawk Accipiter poliocephala – NA
New Britain Goshawk Accipiter princeps – SP, VULN, E (New Britain)

(Sub)genus Accipiter – 9 species

The “true” Accipiter have an African origin and colonized America quite recently. The 4 last listed species are American but so closely related to each other that they might actually be lumped in one single polytypic species.

They are closely related to (sub)genus Astur and to harriers.

Grey-bellied Hawk Accipiter poliogaster – SP
Ovambo Sparrowhawk Accipiter ovampensis – NA
Madagascan Sparrowhawk Accipiter madagascariensis – SP, E (Madagascar)
* Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk Accipiter rufiventris – NA
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus – NA
White-breasted Hawk Accipiter chionogaster – NA
Plain-breasted Hawk Accipiter ventralis – NA
Rufous-thighed Hawk Accipiter erythronemius – NA


(Sub)genus Astur – 8 species

Those powerful hawks are more closely related to harriers (Circus) that to other sparrowhawks and goshawks. They are found almost worldwide.

Bicoloured Hawk Accipiter bicolor – NA
Chilean Hawk Accipiter chilensis – NA
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii – NA
Gundlach’s Hawk Accipiter gundlachi – SP, ENDAN, E (Cuba)
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis – NA
Meyer’s Goshawk Accipiter meyerianus – SPECIAL TARGET
Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus – NA
Henst’s Goshawk Accipiter henstii – SP, E (Madagascar)


Genus Circus – 16 species

This genus has found so close to some Accipiter than is should be included in it or that last genus should be split in several, as explained above. Howver, morphologically, they look different from hawks and seems very homogeneous.

It is a cosmopolitan genus, well represented in all five continents.

Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus – NA
Eastern Marsh-Harrier Circus spilonotus – NA
Papuan Harrier Circus spilothorax – SPECIAL T., END. (New Guinea)
Swamp Harrier Circus approximans – NA
African Marsh-Harrier Circus ranivorus – NA
Reunion Harrier Circus maillardi – SPECIAL T., ENDAN., END. (Reunion)
Malagasy Harrier Circus macrosceles – SPECIAL T., ENDAN.
Long-winged Harrier Circus buffoni – NA
Spotted Harrier Circus assimilis – NA
Black Harrier Circus maurus – SPECIAL TARGET, ENDAN.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus – NA
Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius – NA
Cinereous Harrier Circus cinereus – NA
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus – NA
Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos – NA, photo above
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus – NA

Genus Harpagus – 2 species

This little genus seems to be basal of all following genera (kites, buzzards, fish-eagles) and might even prove to be also basal of Accipitrinae (sparrowhawks, harriers). It therefore deserves its own tribe or even subfamily.

It is restricted to the Neotropics. Double-toothed Kite is common but Rufous-thighed Kite is still a mysterious, probably rare inhabitant of Atlantic forest and possibly other areas. It is a migrant and seems to be a regular non-breeding visitor in northern South America, especially in the guianas and in Venezuela.

Double-toothed Kite Harpagus bidentatus – NA
Rufous-thighed Kite Harpagus diodon – SPECIAL TARGET


Genus Milvus – 3 species

These kites are sister to the next genus and the clade formed by both genera are sister to the fish-eagles.

Species limits within Milvus are weak and still to be settled. Yellow-billed Kite is sometimes included in Black Kite although as distant to it that Red Kite is. Former “Cape Verde Kite” (“fasciidauda“) seems to be an intermediate / hybrid between Black Kite and Red Kite that is not viable. Subspecies “linaetus” of Black Kite sometimes split in a separate species.

The genus is widespread in the Old World.

Red Kite Milvus milvus – NA
* Black Kite Milvus migrans
* Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius


Genus Haliastur – 2 species

This little genus is closely related to Milvus kites ; shape and behaviour are obviously similar in the field but Haliastur doesn’t show the typical notched tail of Milvus.

Brahminy Kite is widespread in Southern Asia and Oceania while Whistling Kite is restricted to Oceania where both are often sympatric.

* Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus – photo above
* Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus

Genus Haliaeetus – 8 species

This genus was traditionally separated in two: Icthyophaga for the two “fishing-eagles” (Lesser and Grey-headed) and Haliaeetus for the rest. This classification is wrong as none of those two groups of species are actually monophyletic. Either we group them all in one genus, as here, or we have to restrict Haliaeetus to the 4 Northern species (the first 4 of the list below).

It is almost cosmopolitan but doesn’t occur in South America.

Pallas’s Fish Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus – SPECIAL T., ENDAN.
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla – NA, photo above
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus – NA
Steller’s Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus – SPECIAL T., VULN.
* White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
Sanford’s Sea Eagle Haliaeetus sanfordi – SP T., VULN., END. (Solomon)
* African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer
Madagascan Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides – SP T., CRIT., END. (Madagascar)
Lesser Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus humilis – NA
Grey-headed Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus – NA


Genus Butastur – 4 species

This genus appears to be basal of Buteonini (all species from here to the end of the page); see next genus for more details about the theory explaining how Buteonini became mainly a New World tribe.

It is widespread in Southern Asia with three different species. Only one species lives in Africa, that continent has therefore only been colonized recently.

* Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis
White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa – NA
Rufous-winged Buzzard Butastur liventer – NA, photo above
* Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus


Genus Ictinia – 2 species

This is very distinct genus, probably basal to all next genera. It is related to the previous one of the Old World. The common ancestor for both might have been living in Old World, probably Asia, and some individual invaded America. Butastur are the clade of those which stayed in Old World and Ictinia and all birds below are descendants of the ones that colonized America. Some travelled back to Old World much later, noticeably the Buteo buzzards.

Ictinia is Widespread in the Americas from United Stated to Argentina.

Mississippi Kite Ictinia mississippiensis – NA
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea – NA


Genus Busarellus – 1 species

This raptor is one of the few, together with the Osprey (Pandionidae) that have spines on the underside of the feet for better fishing. It is unique in its kind ans just vaguely related to the next species.

Coincidentally or not, they have basically the same range from Mexico to Uruguay.

* Black-collared Hawk Busarellus nigricollis

Genus Geranospiza – 1 species

Although it differs much in plumage, shape and diet, this species is sister to the previous one. It looks more like Polyboroides of Africa and can hunt on trunk, notably to feed on eggs and chicks of hole-nester birds, but it is more an opportunistic species, able to hunt most kinds of vertebrates and invertebrates.

It is widespread from Northern Mexico to Uruguay.

Crane Hawk Geranospiza caerulescens – NA


Genus Rostrhamus – 1 species

This genus and the next one form a little clade, sister to Geranospiza, that is part of the Buteonini tribe, so they are rather “buzzards” or ·”hawks” than kites.

It is a widespread species in America, from Florida south to Buenos Aires province of Argentina.

* Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis

Genus Helicolestes – 1 species

Superficially resembles previous species, and both were formerly placed in the same genus. Their are both specialized on the same diet: Pomacea snails. It seems their are diverging since long enough to belong to different genera.

It is a localised species found in Northern South America from northern Bolivia to North-East Brazil and Panama-Colombia border area.

Slender-billed Kite Helicolestes hamatus – NA

Genus Cryptoleucopteryx – 1 species

This species can look like another Buteogallus and it was even considered as a sub-species of Slate-coloured Hawk (when both where included in Leucopternis). Genetic data show that Plumbeous Hawk is basal to all Buteogallus and was separated from them almost 10 millions of years ago, enough to place it in a separate, monotypic genus.

It is a rare, secretive and decreasing species of the forests of Panama, Colombia and Ecuador that also occurs in extreme North-Eastern Peru.

Plumbeous Hawk Cryptoleucopteryx plumbea – SPECIAL T., VULN.


Genus Buteogallus – 9 species

The species included in this important American genus has been much changed in the recent years. Some species formerly in Leucopternis are now included here, and two massive eagles (Solitary and Chaco) have proven to be actually very large Buteogallus hawks. Theese two sister-species were formerly forming a separate genus, Harpyhaliaetus.

The genus is mainly widespread in the Neotropics with Common Black Hawk reaching Southern USA. Several are uncommon, some are rare and endangered.

Slate-coloured Hawk Buteogallus schistaceus – NA
Rufous Crab Hawk Buteogallus aequinoctialis – NA
Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus – NA
Cuban Black Hawk Buteogallus gundlachii – SPECIAL T., ENDAN., END. (Cuba)
* Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis
White-necked Hawk Buteogallus lacernulatus – SPECIAL T., END. (Brazil)
Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga – NA
Solitary Eagle Buteogallus solitarius – SPECIAL TARGET
Chaco Eagle Buteogallus coronatus – SPECIAL T., ENDAN.

Genus Morphnarchus – 1 species

This species was formerly included in Leucopternis, but it is very distinct in behaviour and morphology. Studies estimate that it might have diverged from the clade formed by of all the following genera about 8 to 11 millions of years ago, which is certainly enough to deserve a monotypic genus.

It has a fragmented distribution in the mountains from Costa Rica to northern Peru; the population is small and probably declining, although it is still locally common.

Barred Hawk Morphnarchus princeps – NA

Genus Rupornis – 1 species

The position or Roadside Hawk has been disputed since long ; some placed in within Buteo while others found it sister to Parabuteo. It fact, it might be sister to all following genera, that means it is basal, hence the position we have chosen here.

It is a common and widespread species in the Neotropical, locally the most abundant raptor.

* Roadside Hawk Rupornis magnirostris

Genus Parabuteo – 2 species

These two very distinct species are just distantly related and might deserve separate genera (Percnohierax is available for the White-rumped Hawk). However, together they form a monophyletic genus.

Harris’s Hawk has a fragmented distribution from southern USA to central Argentina and White-rumped Hawk has a disjunct distribution with a population in the Andes and another in south-western South America, mainly in Brazil. It is little known as very secretive and easily overlooked.

Harris’s Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus – NA
White-rumped Hawk Parabuteo leucorrhous – NA

Genus Geranoaetus – 3 species

Formerly a monotypic genus for the distinct Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Geranoaetus now includes two hawks that were believed to be Buteo before genetics showed that both are close to the buzzard-eagle. However, they are yet close to Buteo and might be merge with it, together with the 2 following genera.

White-tailed Hawk occur in from southern North America to South America and the 2 others are strictly South American. All are fairly common.

White-tailed Hawk Geranoaetus albicaudatus – NA
Variable Hawk Geranoaetus polyosoma – NA
Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus – NA

Genus Pseudastur – 3 species

This genus groups 3 very closely related species, formerly considered as Leucopternis. It seems to be basal of all actual Leucopternis and Buteo. The clade formed by these 3 genera is sister with Geranoaetus.

Grey-backed Hawk is one of the most localised raptor of the Neotropical (it occurs only in Western Ecuador and extreme North-western Peru) and is very endangered. Others are more widespread although Mantled Hawk is almost endemic to Brazil.

Grey-backed Hawk Pseudastur occidentalis – SPECIAL T., ENDAN.
White Hawk Pseudastur albicollis – NA
Mantled Hawk Pseudastur polionotus – SPECIAL TARGET

Genus Leucopternis – 3 species

This genus having lost several species that have proven not closely related to others or linked to Buteogallus (see also above in Pseudastur and Cryptoleucopteryx chapters), it remains with only 3 small and similar-looking species of hawks. Leucopternis is sister with Buteo.

It is restricted in the Neotropical and all species can be very difficult to see in their forested habitats.

Semiplumbeous Hawk Leucopternis semiplumbeus – SPECIAL TARGET
Black-faced Hawk Leucopternis melanops – NA, photo on top
White-browed Hawk Leucopternis kuhli – SPECIAL TARGET


Genus Buteo – 29 species

The relation between this genus and the six previous ones are questioned and all might be grouped in Buteo. In opposite, Grey Hawk and Grey-lined Hawk (formerly lumped) are quite distinct and basal to other Buteos and has been put in their own genus (Asturina).

Species limit Buteo is equally confusing, especially in the Old World. Very close relationships between most species indicates that Old World was colonised recently from the New World where is originated the ancestor of all these birds.

Birds of this genus exist on all continents except Australasia. Ridgway’s Hawk and Cape Verde Buzzard are seriously threatened of extinction.

Grey Hawk Buteo plagiatus – NA
Grey-lined Hawk Buteo nitidus – NA
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus – NA
Ridgway’s Hawk Buteo ridgwayi – SPECIAL T, CRIT., END. (Hispaniola)
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus – NA
Hawaiian Hawk Buteo solitarius – ON REQUEST, END. (Hawaii)
White-throated Hawk Buteo albigula – NA
Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus – NA
Swainson’s Hawk Buteo swainsoni – NA, photo above
Galapagos Hawk Buteo galapagoensis – ON REQUEST, VULN., END. (Galapagos)
Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus – NA
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis – NA
Rufous-tailed Hawk Buteo ventralis – SPECIAL T., VULN
Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus – NA
Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis – NA
Archer’s Buzzard Buteo archeri – SPECIAL T., END. (Somalia)
Red-necked Buzzard Buteo auguralis – NA
* Augur Buzzard Buteo augur
Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus – NA
* Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus – NA
Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius – NA
Himalayan Buzzard Buteo burmanicus – NA
Atlas Buzzard Buteo cirtensis – NA
Cape Verde Buzzard Buteo bannermani – SPECIAL T., ENDAN., END. (Cape Verde)
Forest Buzzard Buteo trizonatus – NA, END. (South Africa)
* Mountain Buzzard Buteo oreophilus
Madagascan Buzzard Buteo brachypterus – NA, END. (Madagascar)
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus – NA
Socotra Buzzard Buteo socotraensis – ON REQUEST, VULN, END. (Socotra)

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