Black Solitary Eagle Buteogallus solitarius


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a moderately small population size which is likely to be declining owing to habitat loss and poaching. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened but may be uplisted to Vulnerable based on further evidence of its population size and trends.

Population justification
There are no population density figures and rigorous national or global population estimates are lacking. Consequently, the global population has not been determined with precision. Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) stated that the population was most unlikely to exceed three figures, however even though the species occurs at low densities it has an extremely large range and this estimate seems implausibly low. The population is therefore preliminarily suspected to lie in the range 1,000-2,499 mature individuals. This equates to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000 individuals. The population in Colombia is estimated to number c.50 mature individuals (Renjifo et al. 2014) whilst the population in Venezuela was estimated to be 300-500 mature individuals and declining in 2015 (Sharpe and Lentino 2015).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline throughout its range (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2016) owing to ongoing habitat destruction and unsustainable hunting.

Distribution and population

This species has a wide latitudinal distribution, from western Mexico to extreme north-west Argentina (with confirmed records in Nicaragua, Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa RicaPanama, VenezuelaColombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia). There are no confirmed records from El Salvador, Guyana or Honduras (R. R. Phillips in litt. 2016). Despite its extensive distribution, it is generally rare and local (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001) and the population may not exceed 1,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001) although this estimate is probably too low.


It is a primary species obligate (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2016) found in humid, densely wooded foothills and other tropical and subtropical premontane and humid montane forest, mostly between 600 and 2,200 m.


Serious threats include deforestation, disturbance and shooting.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The Belize Raptor Research Institute (BRRI) has been studying the species since 2008, investigating its ecology, breeding biology, habitat requirements and status across its distribution (Phillips et al. 2014, R. Phillips in litt. 2016). It is considered nationally endangered in Mexico, Critically Endangered in Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2014) and Vulnerable in Venezuela (Sharpe and Lentino 2015). The species is included on the 'Watch List' of the State of North America's Birds as a species of high conservation concern (NABCI 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Study its ability to persist in degraded and fragmented habitats. Survey and attempt to estimate global population and population trend. Extend protected areas network to include further core areas of remaining habitat.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Ashpole, J

Phillips, R., Clay, R.P., Begazo, A., Engblom, G., Hennessey, A., Sharpe, C J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Buteogallus solitarius. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/11/2019.