Black-And-Chestnut Eagle: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve ever been privileged to gaze over the skies of South America, you might have been lucky enough to spot the dark and brooding shape of a black and chestnut eagle, commonly known as Isidor’s Eagle.

This eagle has a very distinctive look, with a sharp hooked beak and plumed head.

These eagles have been companions with many people for thousands of years, and there are plenty of paintings and murals dedicated to their existence. This is a neotropical eagle and it is one of the largest that you can find in the wild.

Like other eagles, this one is very intelligent, living in complete solitude, it often hunts, breeds and eats alone. It has a very proportionately short tail and a massive wingspan, which certainly helps people to identify it when it is out in the wild.

So where exactly can you find this eagle? What does it eat and where can you find it during the winter season? What are the differences between the male and the female of this species?

What is the breeding cycle of this animal? What calls and sounds do they have? How have they adapted to fit in with their environment?

Well, if you want to know more about this majestic creature, then we would suggest that you keep on reading. This animal is amazing to find out about and we hope that you have much fun and awe in reading about it as we did researching it.


This creature is large with very dark feathers, although some of them have been rendered with brown feathers on their bellies. This is the reason for its black-and-chestnut namesake.

In terms of the tail, this one has white tips, which will mark it out immediately to any ground-based observers. Its tail is very thick and greyish with a subterminal band that is more whitish in color. This bird has orange and yellow eyes, with a smaller grey bill.

The juvenile of this bird comes with a smaller and whiter head, without so much of the chestnut color in its breast. As the bird gets older it develops a more diverse plumage, lowing two dark bands around the tail after it gets to a few years old.

This creature is indistinguishable from other breeds of similar eagles, the main one being the black-and-white-hawk-eagle and the ornate hawk-eagle. This bird is a raptor and is a lot bigger than most other birds in the same genus.

Male Vs Female

The look of both sexes of this bird is very similar, although the female is slightly larger. It is often a few centimeters bigger than the male in terms of length and width.

Are They Aggressive?

This bird is only aggressive to smaller fowl that it hunts in the wild. However, even when tame, you can often get black and chestnut eagles attacking people at falconries or at petting zoos.

However, this eagle will rarely attack anyone in the wild, as most humans are larger and it easily identifies them as a threat.

What Adaptations Do They Have?

This eagle has developed incredible eyesight, able to spot prey from miles away. This creature tends to nest very high up in the trees, so it will need to see various small animals such as wooly monkeys and large squirrels that are nesting in neighboring trees.

This creature has what are called spicules at the bottom of its feet that will help it to keep hold of its prey, especially as it is flying through the air. It has a tomila, which is basically its hooked beak, which will help it to kill its food and tear through the spinal cord.

This is a solitary eagle that tends to hunt spiders, lizards and other insects in the surrounding vicinity. It also has a large wingspan that will allow it to hover over the wilderness, keeping its head dead still as it scans the forest area for prey.

Breeding/reproduction Behaviour

The breeding of this animal usually starts early in the year, with the nest being built around February or March, although this will vary depending on where in South America that it lives.

When it does build the nest, it is made from large sticks that are often 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall by 1 meter (3.2 feet) deep. They usually build their nest on an emergent tree or on the side of a ravine.

The nest is often around 6 meters (20 feet) above the ground. The eagle will occasionally reinforce this nest with grass.

The female will often only lay a single white egg with dark spots. This will take around 40 – 48 days to incubate. The male will stick around the nest and often provide food for the mother and the chick.

Their Calls/Sounds

When it is not breeding season, this eagle is often very quiet. However, when it is trying to find a mate it will often issue a series of monotonous whistles. The fledglings will emit a series of yelping whistles when they want food.

What Do They Eat (Diet)

These animals feast on a wide variety of large animals, including woolly monkeys, squirrels, lizards, chickens and snakes. This eagle is able to kill large-sized mammals and can sometimes be seen preying on smaller livestock.

Where Do They Live (Habitat)

These animals are usually found on wet and undisturbed land, clustered in dense forests. As stated earlier, they will often build a nest at the top of a very tall tree or on the side of a ravine.

What Are Their Nesting Habits

Black-And-Chestnut Eagle

This eagle will often build its nest 6 meters (20 feet) above the ground, using bundles of twigs that it will lash together to make enough room for the fledgling, as well as the male and female parent.

How long Do They Live (Lifespan)

This animal will often live anywhere between 30 and 35 years, depending on the amount of damage done to its habitat. These are apex predators, the only way this animal will have its life prematurely ended is because of human interference.

What Predators Do They Have

These creatures have no real predators and are considered apex predators, as they are at the top of the food chain.

However, there have been instances where this animal will stray towards the ground and will often find itself succumbing to the attacks of a tame dog or a bear.

What Are Their Feathers Like

These animals have largely very dark feathers, with whitish or grey feathers near the top of the head. Their feathers are very straight and close to the body, with a long and pointed tail that fans out when it is in the air.

They will also have chestnut brown feathers on their belly that only develop during adulthood. As juveniles, these creatures are whiter in color, with white bands that run across the tail and the beck, which later grow out.

What Does Their Poop Look Like

This creature’s poop is often stringy, white or yellowish in color. It will often be seen clinging to the trees and is said to have a very pungent odor if you can get close enough.

Do They Migrate

This species does not really migrate, as they tend to live in very hot climates anyway. During the winter, this bird will be less active than normal, but it does not hibernate in the same way as other birds do.

Conservation Status

The widespread deforestation of areas such as the foothills of the Andes has been the cause of the rapid decline of this species of animal. There are now said to be only 370 – 1500 black and chestnut eagles in the wild at this moment.

The main reason that this animal is also hunted is the myth that it kills domestic fowl, which is not true. This eagle is considered on the endangered conservation list, which means that there are efforts by local government and wildlife agencies to keep this animal safe.

Fun Facts

These are one of the largest eagles that you can find in South America. They are only slightly smaller than the Andes native Harpy Eagle or the Crested Eagle.

At the age of only 4, this eagle will have full plumage, most of which is of a dark color, with white around the head and the feet.

You will be able to take photos of these young eagles as they are far less wary of cameras. Look online to see some amazing shots of some of these eagles.

This bird will only lay one egg in contrast to a lot of smaller birds that lay a clutch of around 5 – 7 eggs.

This eagle covers a vast territory, often seen traveling between Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina.