Short-toed Snake-eagle

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Image:ShorttoedSnakeEagle.jpg

Common Name: Short-toed Snake-eagle
Scientific Name: Circaetus gallicus

Size: 24-26 inches (62-67 cm); Wingspan: 67-73 inches (170-185 cm)

Habitat: Eurasia and Africa; Birds breeding in the Palearctic are migratory, with the population in South-East Asia resident. Most migrants winter in tropical North Africa, with some eastern birds moving to the Indian Subcontinent. Migrants move south between August and November, and north between February and May. Birds are usually observed singly or in pairs, even on migration, though migrants will sometimes form groups of up to 12.

It uses a variety of habitats within warm temperate and tropical environments, and is recorded up to 2,300 m. It is found in open cultivated plains, arid stony deciduous scrub areas and foothills and semi-desert areas. It requires trees for nesting.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 51,000-156,000 adult individuals with a stable population trend. The species suffered a marked decline in northern Europe in the 19th-20th centuries, due to habitat loss and persecution. It still suffers from shooting on Malta. It is also very highly vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development. It has suffered a steep decline in numbers and range in Europe and is now rare and still decreasing in several countries due to changes in agriculture and land use.

Diet: Reptiles, particularly snakes and lizards. It hunts mostly nonpoisonous snakes from the family Colubridae (for example the Grass Snake, Natrix natrix. It is also capable of killing venomous snakes from the family Viperidae. Occasionally, they prey on small mammals up to the size of a rabbit, and rarely birds and large insects.

It hunts either from a perch or from flight, and hovers regularly, attacking prey with fast stoops. Sometimes, there is a longer struggle until the snake is dead, with the snake trying to wrap itself around the eagle to crush it in defense.

The short-toed snake eagle is an accomplished flier and spends more time on the wing than do most members of its genus. It favors soaring over hill slopes and hilltops on updrafts, and it does much of its hunting from this position at heights of up to 500 meters (550 yards). When quartering open country it frequently hovers like a Kestrel.

Nesting: Sexes are alike, although the females are larger. Adults have grayish-brown upper-parts and a predominantly white underside. The chin, throat and upper breast are a pale, earthy brown. The tail has 3 or 4 bars. Additional indications are an owl-like rounded head, brightly yellow eyes and lightly barred under wing.

The nest is almost always built relatively low in a tree. Clutch size is 1 unmarked white egg, and the incubation period is 47 days

Cool Facts: Snake eagles can live up to 17 years. Contrary to popular belief, the Short-toed Eagle is not immune against snake poison.


This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume IV: Eagles of the World

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