Crested Eagle Morphnus guianensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is rare throughout its vast range, and is thought to be declining moderately rapidly owing to habitat loss. For this reason it is classified as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The global population size has not been estimated, but it has been described as sparsely distributed in the south of its range (Bierregaard and Kirwan 2017), and the population density of Tikal National Park in Guatemala has been estimated at 2-4 individuals per 100 km2 (Whitacre et al. 2012).

Trend justification
Deforestation rates presented by Tracewski et al. (2016) suggest that the species has lost c.16.5% of suitable habitat over the past 3 generations (54 years). However, the species is suspected to lose 29.8-47% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011), though the rate of loss outside Amazonia is likely to be lower (A. Lees in litt. 2011), and so the species is therefore suspected to undergo an ongoing and future decline of 25-29% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Morphnus guianensis is sparsely distributed throughout its extensive range from extreme southern Mexico, through GuatemalaBelize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, and east Andean Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Bolivia to north Argentina (Bierregaard 1994, Guyra Paraguay 2004, Grosselet and Gutierres-Carbonell 2007, Gomes and Sanaiotti 2015).


It occurs in lowland tropical and subtropical forest, including gallery forest in the south of its range, typically below 600 m but locally up to 1,200 m (Bierregaard 1994, Parker et al. 1996). It may be able to tolerate some habitat fragmentation, having recently been re-discovered in the fragmented Atlantic forest of Brazil, with a home range size considerably smaller than the previously expected minimum range size (Araújo et al. 2015)


Deforestation is a severe problem, with many old records from now deforested parts of the Chocó region in north-west Colombia (Bierregaard 1994). Similarly extensive deforestation in parts of its Central American range suggest that local contractions of range or serious declines in population have already occurred (Bierregaard 1994). It presumably also suffers from competition with humans for prey (Galetti et al. 1997b), and it may be shot by hunters (R. Phillips in litt. 2016); with its large size and low population densities making it particularly vulnerable to hunting (Bierregaard 1994).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Raptor education is taking place in Belize through various organizations (R. Phillips in litt. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey and attempt to estimate population density and global population. Conduct research into genetic variability in the species, and factors that could affect species health (R. Muñiz López in litt. 2016). Organise educational campaigns to reduce hunting pressure. Study its ability to persist in fragmented and degraded habitat.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Symes, A., Sharpe, C.J., Westrip, J., Temple, H., Capper, D.

Phillips, R., Muñiz López, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Morphnus guianensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/04/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/04/2019.