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Geranoaetus melanoleucus immature close-up
geranoaetus melanoleucus
Geranoaetus melanoleucus

The Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, is a large bird of prey belonging to the hawk and eagle family (Accipitridae), found in open regions of South America. This species showcases a significant size, with a total length ranging from 24 to 30 inches and a wingspan between about 5 feet and 6 feet 7 inches. In terms of weight, males average around 4.7 pounds, while females, which are notably larger, average about 6.1 pounds. The black-chested buzzard-eagle is characterized by a robust build, long and broad wings, and a short, slightly tapering tail that is black with grey tips. The adult bird has a white underside, sometimes with fine blackish stripes, and dark grey upperparts with a blackish, brownish, or bluish hue. One of the distinct features of this species is that when perched, its wings almost completely cover its tail, giving it a unique near-tailless appearance. The female can be distinguished by a reddish-cinnamon hue on the upper- and underwing secondaries​​. Habitat-wise, the black-chested buzzard-eagle is found in mountainous or hilly terrain with sparse vegetation, shrubland, or Nothofagus forest, particularly in South America. It is commonly found at altitudes ranging from about 5,000 feet to 15,000 feet above sea level, rarely venturing into lowlands. The species is most active during mid-morning and afternoon, utilizing strong air currents for soaring, which appears to be more for aerial play and display rather than for hunting. Its diet primarily consists of mid-sized mammals, with the European rabbit becoming a key prey item. This bird is also known to prey on native fauna such as degus and hog-nosed skunks, and even on larger mammals like the gray fox. Apart from mammals, its diet includes occasional birds, large squamates, arthropods, and carrion. Notably, the black-chested buzzard-eagle is near the top of the avian food chain.

Geranoaetus melanoleucus on a tree
Geranoaetus melanoleucus young

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