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Southern Banded Snake Eagle
Circaetus fasciolatus

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: East African Banded Snake-eagle, East African Snake-eagle, Fasciated Snake-eagle, Fasciolated Snake-eagle, Southern Banded Snake-eagle.

Circaetus fasciolatus
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Distribution: Afrotropical. Southern SOMALIA south through coastal KENYA, TANZANIA, MOZAMBIQUE, and southeastern ZIMBABWE and southern MOZAMBIQUE to extreme northeastern SOUTH AFRICA. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Formerly considered a race of C. gallicus (Amadon and Bull 1988). Forms a parapatric superspecies with C. cinerascens. According to the molecular study of Lerner and Mindell (2005), which was based on the molecular sequences of two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear entron, the snake eagles of the genus Circaetus form a monophyletic group that is sister to the Old World vulture group, Aegypiinae, as was found earlier by Wink (1995). They are also related to the Congo Serpent Eagle (Dryotriorhis spectabilis), but not to the Madagascar Serpent Eagle (Eutriorchis astur).

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant (Bildstein 2006). Probably migratory from the southern to northern portions of its range in July-October, when it is relatively common in northern coastal Kenya during the dry season (Brown et al. 1982). Berruti (1997) regarded it as resident in South Africa, but immatures appear to wander in search of breeding territories (Barnes 2000).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in coastal forests and woodland, mostly within 20 km of the coast, and along major river sytems and other watered habitat inland to moist savannas. It also occurs in exotic tree plantations (Kemp and Kemp 1998) and is relatively common in coastal Brachystegia (miombo) woodland in Kenya. Spends much of its time perched at the forest edge and is seldom seen flying above the forest canopy. Rather shy, often staying hidden within the forest, and is probably often overlooked (Ash and Miskell 1998, Parker 2005). Occurs in pairs.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on small snakes, lizards, chameleons, frogs, and insects which it captures after stooping from a perch below the canopy. It possibly also takes domestic poultry, birds, and mammals, but its behavior is poorly studied. more....

Breeding: Breeding has been reported from northern KwaZulu-Natal in October-November (Clancey 1985), during October in Zimbabwe (Irwin 1981), and in July-October in East Africa (Kemp 1994). The nest is a relatively flimsy structure of small sticks and twigs, lined with green leaves, and placed high in a fork in a creeper-covered tree. Only a single egg is laid, and it is white or greenish-white and lightly streaked with reddish brown. Birds probably breed at four years of age (Brooke 1984). more....

Conservation: In general, this is a poorly known and uncommon species with a restricted distribution, but it may often be overlooked. It has suffered a reduction in range through the loss of coastal forest (Berruti 1997) and is classified by BirdLife International as Near Threatened. It is Vulnerable in South Africa (Chittenden 2005), owing to its small population size, small, fragmented range, and ongoing habitat loss (Barnes 2000, Chittenden 2005). Jenkins (2008) placed it in his second most threatened category of raptor species in southern Africa. more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) placed the global population (defined as the number of adults and immatures at the start of the breeding season) in the range of 1,001 to 10,000 individuals. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds at 1,000 to 3,000 individuals. more....

Important References: 
Barnes, K.N. 2000. Southern Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus fasciolatus. P.
  85 in K.N. Barnes (ed.), The Eskom Red Data Book of birds of South Africa,
  Lesotho and Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.
Berruti, A. 1997. Southern Banded Snake-eagle. P. 200 in J.A. Harrison et
  al. (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1: Non-passerines.
  BirdLife South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Chittenden, H.N. 2005. Southern Banded Snake-Eagle Circaetus fasciolatus.
  Pp. 496-497 in P.A.R. Hockey, W.R.J. Dean, and P.G. Ryan (eds.), Roberts
  Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book
  Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Southern Banded Snake-eagle. P. 132 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
Scott, J.A., and J.P. Scott. 1995. Notes on the breeding biology of the
  Southern Banded Snake-eagle. Honeyguide 41:156-160.
Snow, D.W. 1978. An atlas of speciation in African non-passerine birds.
  Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), London.
Steyn, P. 1982. Birds of prey of southern Africa: their identification and
  life histories. David Phillip, Cape Town, South Africa.

Deacon, Neil
Middleton, Angus
Simmons, Rob

Last modified: 6/1/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Southern Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus fasciolatus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 18 Jan. 2020

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