Banded snake-eagle

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Banded Snake-eagle
Banded snake eagle.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Infra-class Neoaves
Order Information
Order Accipitriformes
Sub-order Accipitres
Family Information
Superfamily Accipitroidea
Family Accipitridae
Sub-family Circaetinae
Genus Information
Genus Circaetus
Species Information
Species C. cinerascens
Population statistics
Population 10,000-100,000 (2016 est)
Conservation status Least concern[1]

The banded snake-eagle (Circaetus cinerascens), also called the western banded snake eagle, is a species of eagle of the family Accipitridae, and found in sub-Saharan Africa.


The banded snake-eagle is medium-sized, with a length of 23 inches, a wingspan 0f 3 feet 8 inches, and a body weight of up to 2 pounds 6 ounces. It is gray-brown in color above, with back and upper wings a darker shade than the rest. Head, chest and belly are brown, becoming whitish with brown streaking about midway down. The tail is marked with three bands: light gray at the base, white in the middle, and black at the end, giving the bird its name. Juveniles are somewhat paler, with more brown upper parts. Sub-adults are predominantly gray, with many feathers tipped in white, and bears light streaking on upper legs[2].

This species is somewhat secretive, yet can be identified by its call, which consists of a high-pitched "koawk kok-kok-kok" or "kok-kok-kok-kok"[3]. Calls are made while perched or flying, and are frequent and regular around sunrise and a few hours after, especially during the breeding season[4].

Range and habitat

The banded snake-eagle is found from Senegal and Gambia to western Ethiopia and south to Namibia and Zimbabwe. The habitat consists of open savannah with scattered forest, thornscrub, and forested rivers; it is not found with the rain forests of the Congo river basin. Although called a snake eagle, it actively hunts prey in addition to snakes, such as other reptiles, amphibians, birds and rodents.


Banded snake-eagles mate for life. The nesting period is from December to March, with the couple building a small stick nest under two feet in diameter, in trees covered with dense foliage; nests are always newly-made. One egg is laid, and the incubation period lasts 35 to 55 days, with the female doing the bulk of the incubating, the male providing the food. The chicks are fed by both parents, and fledge by 15 weeks.


This species has been described as being locally common in many areas in which it is found. Despite being listed as "least concern" by the ICUN, it has been noticed that the species is declining in numbers, and possibly due to the clearing of riverine forests by man, as well as occasional damage of these trees by elephants[5].