I saw this large bird gliding fairly low over the trees while hiking in the late afternoon in some hills near Taipei recently. It seemed quite large compared to what I normally see here. It's quite difficult to gauge, but I'd guess the wing span was one meter or so.

It made that shrill, descending, single "peeeew" sound that I associate with birds of prey (probably mostly from old movies or TV commercials).

Is it at all possible to guess if this is a hawk or an eagle from these cell phone snapshots? These are cropped out of the full resolution originals. A half-size original for scale is also included.

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The words "hawk" and "eagle" are very confusing and may mean different things in different parts of the world. In fact, the nearly thirty species of raptors (not including owls) native to Taipei apparently include one called a mountain hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nipalensis).

If no one can answer your question, you might narrow the field with a process of elimination. I can't vouch for the accuracy of Wikipedia's list of birds native to Taipei, but it's a start.

There are apparently seven native raptors that are called eagles. If you can eliminate all seven eagles, then it presumably is not an eagle.

Your photographs are helpful insofar as they illustrate the bird's general outline, but it's very hard to distinguish its color pattern. However, the shape of the wings should help narrow the field.

Birds Native to Taiwan


I don't know if you're familiar with the terminology, but many raptors are classified as buteos or accipiters. If I remember correctly, species with broader wings are generally buteos. Species commonly called "hawks" include both buteos and accipiters, but I believe most birds called "eagles" are buteos.

Anyway, here's another link...


  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your very helpful and educational answer! Okay I'll give it a go. Yes it's unfortunate I only have a snapshot from a cell phone. The first of the two (slightly overexposed) might reveal some coloration details on the underside of the wings so that will be something I'll look for. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 2 '18 at 5:46
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    $\begingroup$ See my edit regarding buteos, which is what I THINK this bird is. $\endgroup$ Jul 2 '18 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks again, I appreciate the follow-up. Yes the broad wing certainly is a match. It was also noted to me that there are no "fingers" or individual, separated feathers at the end of the wing as some eagles have. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 2 '18 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ The Avifauna of Taiwan published by the Forestry Bureau may help with identification as it contains details and profile pictures you might be able to match with details not caught on film. Accipitridae is in Vol.1. You can try the online ebook version (Accipitridae starts on page 441) provided by the Taiwan Biodiversity Information Facility, however, it's in mandarin and requires flash enabled, though the pictures and scientific names should help with navigation. $\endgroup$
    – Gen Test
    Oct 2 '19 at 9:55

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