Found in the forested habitats of tropical Asia, the crested serpent eagle is a bird of prey of medium size. As its names suggests, the species feeds on snakes, though it is known to feed on other species as well. The specific name 'cheela' is derived from the Hindi name for kites.
Scientific Name :
420 g to 1.8 kg
Wingspan: 123 - 155 cm
Bangladesh,Bhutan,Brunei Darussalam,Cambodia,China,Hong Kong,India,Indonesia,Japan,Lao People's Democratic Republic,Macau,Malaysia,Myanmar,Nepal,Pakistan,Philippines,Sri Lanka,Taiwan, Province Of China,Thailand,Viet Nam
The crested serpent eagle is a medium-sized
raptor with a dark brown plumage that has yellow spots on top parts of the body
and white spots on the underside. Its small crest, which often lies flat on the
head, gives a characteristic shape to its crown. The legs of crested serpent
eagles do not have feathers, and their feet, eyes and base of the bill are
yellow in color. Their ventral side is brown with a distinctive single, broad,
pale band across the tail and wings. The younger animals differ from the adults
by having a much whiter plumage, especially around the head. In adult form,
both sexes of these birds have similar plumage.
crested serpent eagle largely feeds upon snakes, but other reptiles,
amphibians, large insects and small birds can also be found in the diet. They
hunt either from a stationary perch or while soaring. These animals are top
predators in food chains, and there are no known predators above them.
The birds mate in monogamous pairs and they
remain in pairs throughout the year. Their breeding season depends upon the
area in which they live. They build nests in midways in tall trees, which are
often located near a water source. Eggs are usually laid one at a time but
pairs have also been recorded. The incubation period is around 35 days,
feathers develop at around 21 days after hatching and chicks are able to fly
two months after hatching. They are diurnal and non-migratory birds.
Habitat and Distribution
crested serpent eagles can be found in a wide range of habitats: rain forests,
open savannah, mangrove swamps, plantations, ravines and tidal creeks. They
only occasionally enter thick forest interiors because their size makes it
difficult to maneuver. They can tolerate habitat disturbances but need to have
some forested areas in order to hunt and build nests.
serpent eagles can be found throughout the oriental region. In Sri Lanka, they
can be seen in all parts of the country but are very common in the dry zone
regions more than the wet zone.
Threats and Conservation
though the global population of these animals has not been quantified, crested
serpent eagles are considered to be widespread and common, and the population
is presumed to be stable. Therefore, it is categorized as Least Concern by both
the Global Red List and the National Red List.
S. and Ratnavira, G. 2010. An Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka.
Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka
International (2015) Species factsheet: Spilornis cheela. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2015.