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Black-chested Eagle-buzzard (Geranoaetus melanoleucus)

Guillermo - Black-chested Buzzard-eagle

The Black-chested Eagle-buzzard is found in South America, it is most common on steppes and rocky uplands, they are also found in thin dry woodland, savannah, grassland, dunes, and desert regions.

The full adult plumage of very dark grey head and chest, very pale lower body & bluey-grey wings takes around 4-5 years to fully develop. Because of its range & the bluey-grey wings when in adult plumage it is sometimes called the "Chilean Blue Eagle".

Distribution Map

The Black-chested Eagle-buzzard is a near relative of the buzzard family (Buteo), like the "Eagle Owls" the "Eagle" part of it's name is in reference to it's size rather than being a close relative of any of the Eagle families. The scientific name derives frm Ancient Greek & means "black-and-white crane-eagle. In the first part "geranos" meaning crane (ie the bird) is in reference to the grey wing colouring and "aetos" means eagle. In the second part "melanos" meaning black & "leukos" meaning white refer to the chest colouring.

They feed mainly on small mammals, birds (particularly nestlings), snakes, lizards, insects & also carrion. A favoured prey is skunks, giving rise to the local name of "Stinky Bird".

Breeding takes place from February to August in Southern regions and from September to April in Northern. A large stick nest is built on a high cliff ledge or sometimes in a tree fork or a tall cactus. The nest is reused in subsequent years, adding to it each year. Typically two eggs are laid and incubated for 30 days.

On the nest the birds are typically shy & if disturbed will generally leave the nest until the disturbance is gone. However, if threatened, they will aggressively attack even humans, there is a recorded incident of a Chilean soldier being blinded when attacked after he shot an injured a Black-chested Eagle-buzzard.

In general, they rarely cry out. When they do so, it is usually close to the nest site & almost always while on the wing. The cry varies between sounding like a wild human laugh & a clear note similar to that of a curlew.


Click on image for large view

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List : Least Concern (LC)

Also Called :

English Black-chested Buzzard-eagle
Grey Eagle-buzzard
Chilean Blue Eagle
Dutch Grijze arendbuizard
French Buse aguia
German Agula
Portugese Águia-Chilena
Spanish Águila mora
Águila real

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