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Western-banded Snake Eagle
Circaetus cinerascens

Accipitriforme Order – Accipitridae Family

Length: 55 à 60 cm
Wingspan: 114 cm
Weight: 1125 g

Western-banded Snake Eagle is grey-brown, with short tail and large head.
Male adult has grey brown upperparts and underparts, including underwing coverts. Belly feathers show white tips. Flanks are barred with whitish. Upper flight feathers are dark grey to blackish, and contrast with paler back. Under flight feathers are white with narrow black bars. The trailing edge is black and relatively broad. Black tail is short, with broad white band across centre, and we can see a fine white terminal band.

Head is large and dark grey. Hooked bill is black, with deep yellow cere. Eyes are pale yellow. Long bare legs and stubby toes are deep yellow.
Sexes are similar in size and plumage.

Juvenile has paler and browner upperparts than adults, with white-edged feathers. Head, neck and breast are dark-streaked. Underparts are white with pale brown streaks, mainly on belly and thighs. Flight feathers are dark brown on upperwing, and white with brown bars on underwing. Trailing edge is broad and brown. Tail shows broad black subterminal band. Eyes, cere and legs are pale yellow.

Subadult may be all dark grey-brown without any streak on underparts. Eyes, cere and legs are yellow.

Fr: Circaète cendré
All : Bandschlangenadler
Esp :  Culebrera Coliblanca
Ital : Biancone cenerino minore
Nd :  Kleine Grijze Slangenarend
Russe : Окаймленный Змееяд


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Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 2 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334156

BIRDS OF AFRICA SOUTH OF THE SAHARA by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan - Princeton University Press Princeton and Oxford - ISBN: 0691118159

BIRDS OF PREY OF AFRICA AND ITS ISLANDS by Alan and Meg Kemp - Struik Publishers - ISBN: 1770073698

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

Wikipedia (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)


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Summary cards


Western-banded Snake Eagle utters a high-pitched “kok-kok-kok-kok-kok”, and loud, descending cawing notes. It is mainly vocal during the breeding season.

Western-banded Snake Eagle lives in woodlands, mainly along rivers, but it avoids dense forests.

Western-banded Snake Eagle lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. But it is also found from Senegal, eastwards to Ethiopia and southwards to southern Angola and Zimbabwe.

Western-banded Snake Eagle feeds on snakes. It hunts mainly snakes from perch. It drops from its perch to a trunk, into foliage or on the ground. It also feeds on amphibians, caught on the ground or in trees.
It is a solitary bird, very secretive. It is sedentary, and often detected only by its calls.
It is sedentary within its wooded habitat, but it may perform some dispersion to the close regions during the wet season.

Western-banded Snake Eagle sometimes rises to soar, while it calls above the canopy.

Breeding season varies according to the range.
Western-banded Snake Eagle nests among creepers and foliage. It builds a small stick-nest, well concealed within vegetation.
Female lays only one egg. Incubation may last between 35 to 55 days, mainly by female. Young leaves the nest between 10 to 15 weeks after hatching.

Western-banded Snake Eagle feeds mainly on snakes and amphibians, but also on small mammals, fish and insects.  

Western-banded Snake Eagle is vulnerable to loss of its riverine habitat.