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Raptors on the Equator

Sarah is passionate about wildlife and nature and enjoys being outdoors. She spends a lot of time looking for birds, especially raptors.

A few of the raptor species that can be found along the equator.

A few of the raptor species that can be found along the equator.

A raptor is a bird that has large, sharp talons, a hooked beak, and hunts other animals for food. Raptors, also known as birds of prey, are found all around the globe. Some of the most majestic species live along the equator, where the weather is warm and humid most of the time. Below, I have listed several fascinating and exquisite raptors that you may find at the equator.

Slate-colored hawk (Buteogallus schistaceus)

A slate-colored hawk perched in a tree.

A slate-colored hawk perched in a tree.

Order: Accipitriformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Buteogallus

The slate-colored hawk stands 1 and a half feet tall and has a wingspan of about 3 feet. It is a unique looking hawk with dark grey plumage, a red face, and red legs. A slate-colored hawk's tail has a single white bar and a white tip, and they have intense yellow eyes. These are neotropical hawks, and they commonly inhabit Colombia, Brazil, French Guiana, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador.

Crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis)

An up close shot of a crested eagle.

An up close shot of a crested eagle.

Order: Accipitriformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Morphnus

Crested eagles are around 2 and 3 quarters feet tall with a wingspan of almost 6 feet. There are pale crested eagles and dark crested eagles. The pale forms have a grey head and a light underside, and the dark ones have a black head and black breast. Crested eagles live throughout Central and South America from Belize to the northern regions of Argentina.

King vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)

A king vulture standing on the ground.

A king vulture standing on the ground.

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Cathartidae

Genus: Sarcoramphus

This raptor is the largest new world vulture after the condors. King vultures are a little over 2 and a half feet tall, and their wingspan is 6 and a half feet. Unlike other raptors, vultures eat carrion and rely on their eyesight and sense of smell to find food. The king vulture is a beautiful bird of prey, with bright white plumage and a head that's colored orange, green, yellow, and purple/blue! You can find king vultures living anywhere from southern Mexico to southern Argentina.

Long-winged harrier (Circus buffoni)

A long-winged harrier perched on a fence post.

A long-winged harrier perched on a fence post.

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Circus

Long-winged harriers are 1 and a half to 2 feet tall, and their wingspan ranges between 4 and 5 feet. These harriers can be light-colored or dark-colored. The light-colored birds have white underparts, and the dark-colored birds have black bellies. Long-winged harriers are exceptionally stunning due to their facial disks, which are typically only seen in owls. This bird of prey commonly inhabits the northern regions of South America, as well as most of eastern South America.

Black-banded owl (Ciccaba huhula)

A black-banded owl perched on a tree limb.

A black-banded owl perched on a tree limb.

Order: Strigiformes

Family: Strigidae

Genus: Ciccaba

Black-banded owls are nocturnal, small raptors that stand to a height of 12 to 15 inches tall, with a wingspan of 9 and a half to 11 inches long. The owl is captivating and has a dark grey, blackish plumage with white bars all over the body. Their beak is a vibrant orange-yellow color, and they don't have ear tufts. The black-banded owl has a range from southern Colombia to south-east Brazil and northern Argentina.

White-necked hawk (Buteogallus lacernulatus)

A white-necked hawk perched on a tree limb.

A white-necked hawk perched on a tree limb.

Order: Accipitriformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Buteogallus

White-necked hawks are small birds of prey, with a height of 16 to 18 inches and a wingspan of around 3 feet. The birds have a white head and lower body, and dark grey upperparts. White-necked hawks live in lowland forests in the country of Brazil.

Crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus)

An up close shot of a crowned eagle.

An up close shot of a crowned eagle.

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Stephanoaetus

The crowned eagle, also known as the crowned hawk-eagle, is a large and powerful raptor. They stand at about 3 feet tall and have a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet. These birds have black wings, a black back, and a dark head. The breast is cream or reddish colored with black barring or mottling, and they have a long crest on their head, hence their common name. Crowned eagles also have yellow feet and feathered legs, and their eyes are yellow too. The only continent the crowned eagle lives on is Africa, and they primarily inhabit dense woodlands.

African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

An African fish eagle perched on a tree limb.

An African fish eagle perched on a tree limb.

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Haliaeetus

African fish eagles are large eagles that are 2 to 2 and a half feet tall and have a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet long. They are stunning birds with their pure white head, neck, chest, and tail and a dark brown body. The eagles also have a yellow face, dark eyes, and yellow feet. The African fish eagle lives near bodies of water throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa.

Oriental honey buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)

An oriental honey buzzard perched on a tree limb.

An oriental honey buzzard perched on a tree limb.

Order: Falconiformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Pernis

This species is not related to the Buteo buzzards but is more closely related to kites. The oriental honey buzzard is a rather strange looking bird of prey, and its long neck and small head make it look more like a pigeon or a dove. Oriental honey buzzards are about 2 feet tall and have a wingspan of around 4 to 5 feet. They are a brown color on top and paler underneath. Male oriental honey buzzards have a bluish-grey head, and females have a brown head. This bird primarily eats the larvae of bees and wasps, as well as honeycomb, which is quite different from other birds of prey. The oriental honey buzzard breeds in Asia from central Siberia east to Japan and then winters in the tropical regions of Asia.

Flores hawk-eagle (Nisaetus floris)

A Flores hawk-eagle perched on a tree branch.

A Flores hawk-eagle perched on a tree branch.

Order: Accipitriformes

Family: Accipitridae

Genus: Nisaetus

Flores hawk-eagles are rare, and there's very little documentation about their breeding behavior, ecology, or habitat. These eagles are two and a half feet tall with a possible wingspan of 3 to 5 feet. They have dark brown upperparts and white underparts with a white head. The Flores hawk-eagle is endemic to the Indonesian Islands and is essentially dependent on low land rainforests.

I love all birds of prey; they are my favorite of all bird species. I find the raptors that live near the equator to be so fascinating and beautiful. The cities near the equator are also lovely places to live, so these birds are a great match.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Sarah Lyell