Where Do African Hawk Eagles Nest?


Where Do African Hawk Eagles Nest?

African hawk eagles (Aquila spilogaster) are known for their adaptability to various habitats across Sub-Saharan Africa. These majestic birds typically nest in tropical, well-wooded countryside and woodland edge within the savanna region. They tend to avoid dense evergreen forests and true deep forest, but can adapt to thornbush areas, such as the veld, and occasionally nest in cultivation, such as arables, pastureland, or well-treed and low-disturbance plantations.

Nesting Locations of African Hawk Eagles

The African hawk eagle has been documented nesting from sea level to around 3,000 m (9,800 ft), but they mainly occur below 1,500 m (4,900 ft). Their nests are typically built in the fork of a large tree, often located in riparian areas. However, they may also occasionally nest on cliff ledges in East Africa.

Nesting Location Elevation Range
Tropical Broadleaf Woodland Sea level to 3,000 m (9,800 ft)
Woodland Edge within Savanna Mainly below 1,500 m (4,900 ft)
Thornbush Areas (Veld)
Cultivation (Arables, Pastureland, Plantations)
Cliff Ledges (East Africa)

Habitat Preferences of African Hawk Eagles

Where Do african hawk eagles NestImage source: African Hawk-Eagle by Bernard DUPONT

African hawk eagles tend to favor tropical broadleaf woodland and woodland edge within the savanna. They also occur in thornbush areas, such as the veld, and riparian zones. These birds prefer fairly dry areas, but they tend to avoid highly arid localities. They require access to waterways, typically rivers (including ephemeral ones) and watering holes, as these features often hold concentrations of their prey.

Preferred Habitat Characteristics

  • Tropical broadleaf woodland
  • Woodland edge within savanna
  • Thornbush areas (veld)
  • Riparian zones
  • Moderate rainfall (avoid highly rainy and arid areas)
  • Access to waterways (rivers, ephemeral streams, watering holes)
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Nest Construction and Breeding

The nests of African hawk eagles are built by both males and females, typically in the fork of a large tree. The nests are approximately 3 feet in diameter and are constructed using sticks and branches.

The species typically requires protected areas to successfully propagate, indicating the importance of conservation efforts for their survival. This adaptable raptor plays a crucial role in the ecosystem, helping to maintain a balanced food chain and contributing to the overall biodiversity of the regions it inhabits.


In conclusion, the African hawk eagle is a versatile and adaptable species that can thrive in a variety of habitats across Sub-Saharan Africa. From well-wooded countryside and woodland edge within the savanna to thornbush areas and even cultivation, these birds have demonstrated their ability to adapt to different environments. However, their preference for protected areas and moderate rainfall highlights the importance of conservation efforts to ensure the long-term survival of this magnificent raptor.