Ornate Hawk Eagles (Spizaetus ornatus) are
vibrantly-colored, medium-sized raptors native to the Yucatan Peninsula
and Central and South America. Their range includes southern Mexico,
Central and South America, and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
Ornate Hawk Eagles are distinctive for their striking plumage. Adults have black, crested heads, copper-brown necks, white breasts barred and outlined with black, and dark brown bodies. Their tails and wings are dark brown barred with black on the top surfaces, and white barred with black on the undersides.
Ornate hawk eagles inhabit tropical rainforests and other humid, forested areas. They are able to live in somewhat restricted areas, so habitat loss is somewhat less devastaating to them than to most other species. Though usually rare in a given area, their range is large enough to keep their overall population numbers up, and though there has been some decline, they are not currently considered a threatened species.
Ornate Hawk Eagles eat other birds, small mammals and sometimes reptiles. They catch their prey by diving, and take birds on the wing or from tree branches, and other prey on the ground.
Ornate Hawk Eagles build large nests out of twigs that can be up to three feet (1 meter) across. The female lays and sits a single egg, and the male stays some distance from the nest, never approaching it closely. He will catch food for his mate and the fledgling, but he will give it to the female some distance from the nest. The young bird will be fed by its parents for up to a year.