Local Government Partner :: Albury City, Wodonga Council Supported by :: Albury Conservation Company
Home Birds Birds of prey Hieraaetus morphnoides

Hieraaetus morphnoides

Little Eagle

Declared Vulnerable in the ACT and NSW.  

One of the smallest eagles in the world, the little eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) are stocky, powerful birds with a wingspan of about a metre with dark spreading fingers at the wing tips. There is a pale broken M across its underparts, which is visible from a distance. It has a moderately long tail, square-cut at the tip when closed. The legs are heavily feathered or "booted".  It soars in tight circles, gliding on flat wings. The female is larger than the male.  

The Little Eagle is endemic to Australia and is distributed throughout the mainland. In south-eastern Australia there has been a general and continuing decline in its abundance over the last 30 years based on indices established by national and regional censuses. The main threat to the Little Eagle appears to be loss of habitat. Competition with Wedge-tailed Eagles and secondary poisoning from pindone (used to control rabbits a major little eagle food item) are also suspected of being factors of decline.  

The Little Eagle prefers open forest and woodland habitat, which in our region occurs below 750m. Higher abundance of the species is associated with hillsides where there is a mosaic of wooded and open areas such as riparian woodlands, forest margins and wooded farmland.  


Research into the movement and local ecology of the species is currently underway. Your help is sought by loading images of sightings to Nature Map, which will assist in locating new nests and tracking movement of particular birds. Highlights of the study to date include:  


  • attaching a satellite tracker to an adult male that utilised a 65km area across northern ACT and neighbouring NSW  for foraging during the breeding season and flew over 3000km to spend winter in the Northern Territory;
  • attaching a satellite tracker to a female fledging which flew to south-east Queensland soon after leaving the nest and remains in that area;
  • location of at least nine breeding pairs in the ACT during the 2017-2018 breeding season (August to January). Six pairs laid eggs and four young were raised; and
  • Nests were regularly spaced, and found in woodland, partially cleared woodland or a windbreak. Nesting eagles did not appear to avoid or prefer to be near various urban features. The main prey type was small/medium-sized birds (e.g magpies, rosellas and starlings), although the most eaten individual species was Rabbit, and lizards were also taken.


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Hieraaetus morphnoides (Little Eagle) at Wonga Wetlands - 3 Feb 2021 by stephent941 Hieraaetus morphnoides (Little Eagle) at Albury - 19 Apr 2019 by Kyliegw
Hieraaetus morphnoides (Little Eagle) at Wonga Wetlands - 3 Feb 2021 by stephent941
Hieraaetus morphnoides (Little Eagle) at Albury - 19 Apr 2019 by Kyliegw


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