Beaudouin's snake-eagle

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Beaudouin's snake-eagle
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. beaudouini
Population statistics
Population 2,500-9,999 (2006 est[1])
Conservation status Vulnerable[2]

Beaudouin's snake-eagle (Circaetus beaudouini) is a species of eagle found in a belt of Africa south of the Sahara desert. The bird is named for M. Beaudouin[3], a French naturalist and collector in the mid 19th century.


Beaudouin's snake-eagle is fairly large, with a length up to 26 inches, and a wingspan up to 67 inches. It is gray-brown above, including the head to the upper chest; lower chest and abdomen are whitish with horizontal brown barring, which is better defined on the flanks. The barring on the underside of the wings and tail is more pronounced. The face bears yellow eyes and a black bill. Juvenile birds are less defined, and darker overall in color.

Although called a snake eagle, it actively hunts prey in addition to snakes, such as other reptiles, amphibians, birds, rodents, and insects. It primarily hunts from a perch rather than in flight, waiting for a prey animal to appear before making a move towards it.

Range and habitat

The range of Beaudouin's snake-eagle is a relatively narrow belt of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania to the west, as far east as Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya; south to Guinea, Costa d Ivory, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon and Central African Republic.

It lives primarily in an open or semi-open grassland environment with sparse trees, dry forest edges, or cultivated fields; often near water and usually below 3,000 feet elevation; east they can exist in areas to 6,000 feet elevation. In some areas it is a seasonal migrant, moving to the northern part of its range during the rainy season; other areas, such as the Gambia river valley, it is sedentary.


An estimate was made which indicated this species suffered a decline of 86-93% from 1969-2004[4], concurrent with an increase in human population and activity within the bird's range. Forested areas of habitat were altered either into shrubland - reducing hunting perches and nesting sites - or changed into farmland, where pesticide use has reduced insect prey. Further exasperating the problem are cotton fields and the increased use of organochlorine insecticides to protect them. Studies have indicated this and other bird species suffer egg failure, adverse physical effects, and starvation[5][6][7].