, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 361–365 | Cite as

Fatal attack on a Rylands' bald-faced saki monkey (Pithecia rylandsi) by a black-and-white hawk-eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus)

  • Dara B. AdamsEmail author
  • Sean M. Williams
Original Article


Predation risk has played an important role in primate behavioral evolution, yet natural primate–predator interactions are rarely observed. We describe the consumption and probable predation of an adult bald-faced saki monkey (Pithecia rylandsi) by a black-and-white hawk-eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus) at the Los Amigos Biological Station in lowland Amazonian Peru. To our knowledge, this is the first published case of a black-and-white hawk-eagle consuming any primate species. We contend that while most reported observations of successful and attempted predation by raptors involves the largest and most notorious species (i.e. the harpy eagle), smaller and lesser known species like S. melanoleucus should be considered more seriously as a predator of neotropical primates. We discuss the predation event in the context of understanding what other neotropical primates might be vulnerable to S. melanoleucus predation given its body size and hunting tactic.


Predation Spizaetus melanoleucus Pithecia rylandsi Antipredator behavior Peru 



We thank Catherine A. Lindell, Dawn M. Kitchen, and W. Scott McGraw for reviewing and offering important feedback on the original manuscript. Many thanks to Don Dario Cruz (DC) for his astute observations and detailed notes on the saki predation event. We are also grateful to the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA) and Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) for permission to conduct research at Los Amigos and to ACCA staff for their support and companionship during the study. Lastly, the invaluable comments of Dr. Yuji Takenoshita and an anonymous reviewer greatly improved an earlier draft of this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards


The authors collected observations reported in this manuscript during separate long-term research projects supported by The Ohio State University (DBA), Michigan State University (SMW), Animal Behavior Society (DBA), and the National Science Foundation-BCS-1,341,174 (DBA).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All research reported in this manuscript was authorized by Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and approved by The Ohio State University’s and Michigan State University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC).


  1. Adams DB, Kitchen DM (2016) Foiled again: playback experimental evidence that saki and titi monkey alarm calls deter ambush predators. Am J Phys Anthropol 159:174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bierregaard RO (1994) Neotropical Accipitridae (Hawks and Eagles). In: del Hoyo J, Elliott A, Sargatal J (eds) Handbook of the birds of the world, vol 2. Lynx Ediciones, Barcelona, p 191Google Scholar
  3. Boinski S (1987) Birth synchrony in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri oerstedi): a strategy to reduce neonatal predation. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 21:393–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boinski S, Kauffman L, Westoll A, Stickler CM, Cropp S, Ehmke E (2003) Are vigilance, risk from avian predators and group size consequences of habitat structure? A comparison of three species of squirrel monkey (Saimiri oerstedii, S. boliviensis, and S. sciureus). Behaviour 140:1421–1467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buchanan DB, Mittermeier RA, Van Roosmalen MGM (1981) The saki monkeys, genus Pithecia. In: Coimbra-Filho AF, Mittermeier RA (eds) Ecology and behavior of neotropical primates, vol 1. Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, Rio de Jainero, pp 391–417Google Scholar
  6. Cheney DL, Wrangham RW (1987) Predation. In: Smuts BB, Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM, Wrangham RW, Struhsaker TT (eds) Primate societies. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 227–239Google Scholar
  7. De Luna AG, Sanmiguel R, Di Fiore A (2010) Predation and predation attempts on red titi monkeys (Callicebus discolor) and equatorial sakis (Pithecia aequatorialis) in Amazonian Ecuador. Folia Primatol 81:86–95CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Defler TR (1979) On the ecology and behavior of Cebus albifrons in Eastern Colombia: i. Ecol Primates 20:475–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ferguson-Lees J, Christie DA (2001) Raptors of the world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, BostonGoogle Scholar
  10. Gilbert KA (2000) Attempted predation on a white-faced saki in Central Amazon. Neotrop Primates 8:103–104Google Scholar
  11. Gleason TM, Norconk MA (2002) Predation risk and anti-predator adaptations in white- faced sakis, Pithecia pithecia. In: Miller LA (ed) Eat or be eaten: predator sensitive foraging among primates. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 169–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hershkovitz P (1987) Uacaries, New World monkeys of the genus Cacajao (Cebidae, Platyrrhini): a preliminary taxonomic review with the description of a new subspecies. Am J Primatol 12:1–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Isbell LA (1994) Predation on primates: ecological patterns and evolutionary consequences. Evol Anthropol 3:61–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lledo-Ferrer Y, Hidalgo A, Heymann EW, Peláez F (2009) Field observation of predation of a slate-colored hawk, Leucopternis schistacea, on a juvenile saddle-back tamarin, Saguinus fuscicollis. Neotrop Primates 16:82–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McGraw WS, Berger LR (2013) Raptors and primate evolution. Evol Anthropol 22:280–293CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Miller LE, Treves A (2007) Predation on primates: Past studies, current challenges, and directions for the future. In: Campbell CJ, Fuentes A, MacKinnon KC, Panger M, Bearder SK (eds) Primates in perspective. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 525–543Google Scholar
  17. Miranda JMD, Bernardi IP, Moro-Rios RF, Passos FC (2006) Antipredator behavior of brown howlers attacked by black hawk-eagle in Southern Brazil. Int J Primatol 27:1097–1101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mitchell CL, Boinski S, van Schaik CP (1991) Competitive regimes and female bonding in two species of squirrel monkeys (Saimiri oerstedi and S. sciureus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 28:55–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Norconk MA (2006) Long-term study of group dynamics and female reproduction in Venezuelan Pithecia pithecia. Int J Primatol 27:653–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pitman NCA. 2010. An overview of the Los Amigos watershed, Madre de Dios, southeastern Perú. February 2010 version of an unpublished report available from the author at ncp@duke.eduGoogle Scholar
  21. Sick H (1985) Ornitologia brasileira, vol I. Editora Univ, BrasiliaGoogle Scholar
  22. Stanford CB (2002) Avoiding predators: expectations and evidence in primate antipredator behavior. Int J Primatol 23:741–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Terborgh J, Janson CH (1986) The socioecology of primate groups. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 17:111–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. van Schaik CP (1983) Why are diurnal primates living in groups? Behaviour 87:120–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Whitacre DF, Burnham A (2012) The Maya Project. In: Madrid JA, Madrid HD, Cruz R, Flatten CJ, Funes SH (eds) Neotropical birds of prey. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  26. Willis A (1988) A hunting technique of the black-and-white hawk-eagle (Spizastur melanoleucus). Wilson Bull 100:672–675Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, 4005 Smith LaboratoryThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Integrative BiologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior ProgramMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations