Short-toed Snake Eagle


Short-toed Snake Eagle

Scientific Name:  Circaetus gallicus

Short-toed Snake Eagle image

Short-toed Snake Eagle  Photo by:  --

Bird Type:  Birds of Prey    575  Views


This beautiful raptor is an Old World species. The Short-toed Snake-Eagle is migratory, travelling southwards to Africa to spend the winter.
Both adults are similar, with female larger than male. Adult has brown upperparts and white underparts, with dark brown head and upper breast. But the colours are rather variable.
In adults, the white underparts are usually barred dark brown on lower breast and belly, but also on the underwing. The trailing edge is dark brown, well visible in flight. The white undertail is barred brown. But adults may have lighter underparts pattern with finer dark barring and paler upper breast.
On the upperwing, the flight feathers are dark brown. The uppertail feathers are brown barred darker.
The head is brown and rounded. The hooked bill is relatively small and blackish with pale grey cere. Eyes are golden yellow. Legs and feet are dark grey. The long bare legs are covered with scales to protect the bird against the snake venom.
The juvenile resembles adult but it is usually paler with pale chestnut head and upper breast. On the underwing, the dark wing bars are paler.
The immature have more contrasted underparts with dark brown bars on wings and tail. Head and upper breast become darker.


  • 62-67 cm

  • 24-26 Inch

  • gray

  • white  (Bird may have more colors)
  •    খাটোআঙুল সাপঈগল
  •    સાપમાર
  •    ಪನ್ನಗಾರಿ
  •    പാമ്പ് പരുന്തു്
  •    सापमार गरुड
  •    सर्पहारी चील
  •    ஓணான் கொத்திக் கழுகு
  •    Telugu

The short-toed snake eagle uses a variety of habitats such as open cultivated plains, arid and stony lands, deciduous scrub areas, foothills and semi-desert areas within warm temperate and tropical environments.


The Short-toed Snake-Eagle feeds primarily on snakes of family Colubridae. The snake is caught by the nape and killed before to be carried to the nest.
It also takes other reptiles such as several species of lizards, and occasionally small mammals from rodents to hares, and some birds and invertebrates according to the season.


The eagle call is a variety of musical whistling sounds. The Short-toed Snake-Eagle is noisy during the breeding season, and especially near the nest. We can also hear several kinds of calls such as a harsh, plaintive jee, a monotonous peek-o and a weaker ok-ok-ok. During the displays, the male utters melodious sounds and clear, musical whistles, but the female rarely calls. In aggressive encounters, it gives deep, harsh, repeated calls.


The short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus), also known as short-toed eagle, is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards and harriers. The genus name Circaetus is from the Ancient Greek kirkos, a type of hawk, and aetos, "eagle". The specific gallicus means "of Gaul".

The short-toed snake eagle measures 60 to 70 cm in length and weighs 1,200 to 2,000 grams. The female eagle is slightly larger and weighs 1,300 to 2,300 grams. The wingspan is 160 to 190 cm. It has predominantly white underside and the upper parts are greyish brown. It has a rounded head and the chin, throat and upper breast are a pale brown. There are 3 to 4 bars in the tail. The face is owl-like and the eyes are bright yellow.

    Resident (inc. local and altitudinal migrants)
    Former range (no recent records but may still survive)
    Summer visitor (including summer monsoon)
    Winter visitor
    Passage (autumn and/or spring) visitor
    known to be occasional, scarce or erratic
    Small isolated population (actual range smaller)  
    Isolated record(s) - one or more in the same area  
 colour coded for seasonality as per coloured ranges, black denotes unspecified season