Identity Crisis – Changeable Hawk-Eagle


Continuing from the Brahminy Kite photos that we just posted, this is our second raptor post! 🙂 Over time, we’ve collected many pictures of different raptors and they were very hard to identify because they all look similar to us. (We had some help identifying them) In particular, this bird has visited us outside our balcony a few times and we’re happy to have caught it, though the feelings don’t seem to be reciprocated…

Description: The Changeable Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus), otherwise known as the Crested Hawk Eagle, is called “Changeable” because it is dimorphic, meaning that plumage colour can change greatly from bird to bird, making it quite hard to identify! There are 2 basic morphs (forms) – dark morph and pale morph. Dark morph ones are generally dark brown all over, while pale morph ones have brown wings and pale but streaked underparts. Juveniles have whiter underparts with less streaks. It has a slight crest and its call is a high-pitched, shrill whistle. You may spot it flying over open or forested areas.

Status: Uncommon resident breeder.

Diet: Mammals, birds and reptiles.

Fun fact (okay not really a fact): Why is the Changeable Hawk-eagle called a hawk-eagle and not a hawk or an eagle? We’re actually not sure 😛 According to The Free Dictionary, a hawk-eagle is a bird intermediate between the hawks and eagles, whatever that means. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to comment!

28th October 2015


16th August 2015

Kingfisher: Umm… should I run before I become lunch? (Look at the difference in size!)


Eyeing its prey…


Acrobatic preening!


And with a whoosh, off it goes!


9th June 2015

Surveying its territory. This one’s a light morph, like the ones we usually see and photograph.



27th April 2015

The first time a changeable hawk eagle landed on The Tree and stayed there for a long time! We rushed to grab our camera and watched it in awe. :O


It probably heard all the clicking from our cameras and turned to shoot us a withering glare.


Protesting unwanted attention.


That’s it, I’m leaving!


It then flew to another more hidden tree that was, unfortunately for it, even closer to us.


You again?!?!


And again it flew to another branch closer to the ground, which was better for us and not for it, because we could walk downstairs to get even closer. 😛 Even though we tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, its hawk-eagle eyes noticed.


Feathers were ruffled, literally and figuratively.


It turned away…


…and, facing the other side, realized the pesky humans were still there and proceeded to shoot daggers at us through its eyes.


All of a sudden, it pooped with such force that it could be called an expulsion, as if to show what it thought of us.


Finally, the disgruntled bird took off, hoping to never see us again. (As you can see from the many pictures we took at later dates, that was not to be.)


15th February 2015

We spotted a pair of pale-morph changeable hawk-eagles flying together!


They were swooping towards each other…


And actually clashed in the air! We wonder if they were really fighting or playing :O


Entering a nose dive…


24th November 2014

On this day, we were surprised to spot this large bird awkwardly dangling by its legs from some vines, like it was trying to land there but failing. After flapping about for a while, it disengaged itself and flew to a nearby tree.


It turned out to be a rather gangling juvenile changeable hawk-eagle! See how white and un-streaked its under feathers are :3 And it has a cute baby face too.


(Sheepishly) Nothing happened earlier!


11 thoughts on “Identity Crisis – Changeable Hawk-Eagle

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