Madagascar fish eagle

The Madagascar fish eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides [2]) or Madagascar sea-eagle (to distinguish it from the Ichthyophaga fishing-eagles), is a large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards and harriers. It is endemic to the coastal strip in the northwest of Madagascar. It is about 63 cm (25 in) long and has a pale brown head, dark brown body and white tail. The Madagascan fish eagle has been suffering from a declining population and is threatened by habitat destruction and persecution, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being "critically endangered".

Madagascar fish eagle
Madagascar Fish Eagle, Lake Ravelobe, Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar.jpg
Two at Lake Ravelobe, Ankarafantsika National Park
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Haliaeetus
H. vociferoides
Binomial name
Haliaeetus vociferoides
Des Murs, 1845
Madagascar Fish Eagle.png


The Madagascar fish eagle is a medium-sized sea eagle, 60–66 cm (23.5–26 in) long and with a wingspan of 165–180 cm (65–71 in).[3] The body and wings are dark brown, with a pale brown head and a white tail; the bill is blackish with a paler base, and the legs are pale grey.[4][page needed] Males weigh 2.2–2.6 kg (4.9–5.7 lb), while the slightly larger females weigh 2.8–3.5 kg (6.2–7.7 lb).[5]

Its closest relative is the African fish eagle, Haliaeetus vocifer. Together, they form a distinct species pair lineage of sea-eagles, which separated soon after the divergence of the genus; they retain the ancestral dark beak, talon, and eye, but unlike other Haliaeetus species, they always have at least partially white tails, even while juvenile. As in other sea-eagle species pairs, one species (the Madagascan fish eagle in this case) has a tan head, while the other has a white one.[4][page needed]


This species is endemic to Madagascar, where it survives in low numbers along the northwest coast north of Morondava. The range of this eagle is within the Madagascar dry deciduous forests.[6] The principal locus of population according to the United Nations Environmental Programme is in the Analova region; 20 to 25 breeding pairs were there as of the 1980s. A more recent survey by Garbutt and Hogan report a smaller concentration of at least three breeding pairs in the Anjajavy Forest along the Indian Ocean, where several streams discharge north of Anjajavy Village.[7]


Total population estimates from the United Nations and from Grambo [8] place the world population of this species at about 40 breeding pairs; according to Grambo this bird may be one of the rarest birds on Earth. Other surveys between 1991 and 1995 recorded at least 222 adults from 105 sites, with an estimated 98 breeding pairs.

The main threats to its breeding habitat are deforestation, soil erosion and the development of wetland areas for rice paddies. It is also in direct competition with humans for fish stocks. Because of its decline in numbers and the threats it faces, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the bird's conservation status as being "critically endangered".



  1. ^ BirdLife International. 2018. Haliaeetus vociferoides (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22695121A125395004. Downloaded on 07 April 2021.
  2. ^ Etymology: Haliaeetus, New Latin for "sea eagle". vociferoides, from Latin vocifer, the specific name of the African fish eagle + -oides, "likeness of". This is in allusion to the conspicuous yelping calls which, when sitting, are given with the head fully thrown to the back, a peculiarity found among sea eagles only in this and the African species.
  3. ^ Raptors of the World by Ferguson–Lees, Christies, Franklin, Mead & Burton. Houghton Mifflin (2001), ISBN 0-618-12762-3
  4. ^ a b del Hoyo, Elliott & Sargatal 1994.
  5. ^ "Madagascan Fish Eagle - Haliaeetus vociferoides". ARKive. Archived from the original on 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  6. ^ "United Nations Environment Programme: Madagascar Fish Eagle". 2007-05-22. Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  7. ^ Nick Garbutt; C. Michael Hogan; Hilton Hastings; Wendy Pollecutt; Tahiana Andriaharimalala (2006-05-12). "Anjajavy, the village and the forest". Lumina Technologies. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  8. ^ Rebecca L. Grambo, "Eagles" ( Published by Voyageur Press, Inc.
Cited works