|Conservation status||Least concern|
The black-chested snake-eagle is fairly large, with a body length of up to 26 inches, a wingspan of up to 64 inches, and weighs up to 5 pounds. Females are slightly larger than males. It has a rather large head, large yellow eyes and dark and hooked beak. The plumage is dark brown to blackish-brown on the head and back, with a black collar on its neck and upper chest, hence the name. The underside of the bird is largely white, with the primary and secondary wing feathers and tail marked with horizontal brown bands. The legs are robust, featherless and covered with scales to protect them from prey bites; the feet are small, suitable for the capture of reptiles.
The bird is largely silent except during the breeding season. Its call is an acute syllable "kuo" or a high-pitched "kaa-rrr", repeated three times and elongated the fourth.
Range and habitat
This bird has a wide range: it is found from Sudan and Ethiopia south to all of southern Africa south of the Congo river basin. It lives in open areas like desert and semi-desert environments, in grasslands, savanna, on the edge of small woods and on hilly slopes.
The black-chested snake-eagle is a diurnal and sedentary bird of prey, specialized in reptile hunting. It often goes up the hills, flying low and sometimes hovering in search of its prey. It is predominantly solitary, but also is found in pairs. It feeds mainly on snakes, but not on venomous ones; it also catches other birds, bats, lizards, frogs and even fish. The female lays only one egg that she takes care of with the male. The incubation period is 48 days. After hatching, the chick takes three months to fledge, but does not immediately leave the nest and can stay with the parents for up to six months.
The species has been classified as "least concern" by the ICUN, with no record of population drops.