Short-toed Snake Eagle - Circaetus gallicus


The Short-toed Snake Eagle is well-protected by thick feathers on its thighs and scales on its legs, but it is not immune to snake venom. It is a very sprightly bird. Its habitat depends mostly on the abundance of reptiles in the area. It breeds in our department and leaves us in September to migrate to Africa. The Short-toed Snake Eagle can often be seen gliding, but also hovers with its legs hanging down like the kestrel when it is hunting – hence its name circaetus, from the Greek kirkos (falcon) and aétos (eagle), or the falcon eagle. This is a specific trait for a bird of this size.


CLASS : Aves
ORDER : Falconiformes
FAMILY : Accipitridae
WINGSPAN : 1.8 m
WEIGHT : Male 1.2 - 2 kg / Female 1.3 – 2.3 kg
INCUBATION : 45-47 days
DIET : mainly reptiles, particularly snakes from the Colubridae family. It may occassionally eat small mammals or birds.
NATURAL HABITAT : hot, temperate and tropical zones; open woodland, fairly dense forests and semi-desert areas.
RANGE : Europe, Asia, Near East, Africa

Conservation status

Conservation status info

Rocher des Aigles

LC : Least Concern

The Short-toed Snake Eagle has suffered declines in the past, but populations have seemed to be stable since the late 20th century. Changes in their habitat (increase in farming, deforestation), persecution, collisions with power lines and nest destruction may still affect populations in some countries.