Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)

The Black-chested Snake Eagle is a very large, 26" (65cm) bird, with a 69" (175cm) wingspan. By Eagle standards, it is medium-sized. A blackish-brown above and white beneath, with a few narrow bars along the flight feathers and three bands across the tail. It is sometimes confused with the Martial Eagle, but is smaller and lacks the spotted belly. The Black-chested Snake Eagle lacks the baggy feathering on the thighs, showing bare, grey legs, when perched. It has distinctive yellow eyes and pale yellow feet.

The Black-chested Snake Eagle is often seen on its own, perched on top of acacia trees or other exposed perches, watching for its next meal. Often-times, it is seen hovering, in search of food.

The Black-chested Snake Eagle, as its name suggests, eats snakes. It is one of the few birds of prey to take on the Black Mamba. It also eats other reptiles (Chameleons and Monitor Lizards), rodents, amphibians, insects, small birds, bats, and even fish.

Black-chested Snake Eagles are found throughout Kenya, although it is not common. It prefers lightly wooded areas and open savannah.

Extra Facts
The breeding season for Black-chested Snake Eagles is between October to December. Its large nest is usually found atop Acacia trees and lined with leaves from that plant. A single egg is laid, which hatches in 7 weeks. It then takes a further 3 months for the youngster to fledge.
Its call is "kwo kwo kwo kweeoo":

Photographed in Masai Mara.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:bird, black-chested snake eagle, eagle, kenya, snake eagle, wildlife

Black-chested Snake Eagle ~ Perched On Acacia

Black-chested Snake Eagle ~ Perched On Acacia

Black-chested Snake Eagle ~ In 'Flight Mode'

A Black-chested Snake Eagle, wings outstretched, ready to fly.

Black-chested Snake Eagle

Black-chested Snake Eagle, perched on top of tree, hunting.