Society for the Preservation of Raptors (Inc)

Little Eagle (Aquila morphnoides formerly classified as Hiereaatus morphnoides)

Litttle Eagle
The Little Eagle is the world's smallest "true" or "booted" eagle.  As seen in the photograph at left, a "booted" eagle's legs are feathered all the way down the tibiotarsus to the foot. They have a true crest, which is normally resting flat against the head when the bird is at rest, but raised when the bird wishes to appear larger, (for example in the presence of an unfamiliar object such as a camera.)

Little Eagles vary in their plumage from a dark, almost uniform red-golden brown through to streaked and mottled shades of brown to cream with red-golden brown on the wings and head and light golden brown mottling on the wings. The bird in the photograph is a juvenile (first year) male. His plumage is currently tending toward rufous. This will most likely moult out to a mottled gold and brown as the bird matures.

The dimorphism between the sexes can be quite marked in this species:  females can weigh around a kilogram or more, while the average weight of the male is around 630g.

Little Eagles are found throughout mainland Australia and New Guinea. They prey primarily upon feral rabbits and other terrestrial animals such as reptiles and small marsupials. They will also feed on carrion, insects and occasionally birds.

Photograph © EarthWings - reproduced with permission.

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