Circaetus fasciolatus (Southern banded snake-eagle) 

Dubbelbandslangarend [Afrikaans]; Grijze slangenarend [Dutch]; Circaète barré [French]; Graubrust-schlangenadler [German]; Águia-cobreira-barrada [Portuguese]

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Circaetus fasciolatus (Southern banded snake-eagle) Circaetus fasciolatus (Southern banded snake-eagle) 

Southern banded snake-eagle, Gwalagwala forest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Southern banded snake-eagle. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs along the coastal plain of east Africa, from southern Kenya through Tanzania to Mozambique, eastern Kwazulu-Natal and eastern Zimbabwe. It generally prefers coastal evergreen forest, sand forest, thickets and plantations.

Distribution of Southern banded snake-eagle in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

Young nestlings have been recorded as prey of Haliaeetus vocifer (African fish-eagle).

Movements and migrations

Resident and largely sedentary.

Food 

It mainly eats snakes, doing most of its foraging from a perch, scanning the surrounding vegetation for prey. If it catches a large snake, it rips it into bite-size pieces before feeding, but if it small enough it just swallows it whole and head-first. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Monogamous and territorial, performing an aerial display in which it flies up and down while calling loudly, sometimes finish with a steep dive.
  • The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of an open platform of thin sticks with a smaller inner cup, lined with fresh green sprigs. The whole structure is roughly 50-70 cm wide, and the cup is usually about 17 cm wide. It is typically placed in the main fork of a tree, especially the following:
    • Brachystegia (miombo)
    • Apodytes dimidiata (White-pear)
    • Scutia myrtina (Cat-thorn)
    • Trema orientalis (Pigeonwood)
    • Antidesma venosum (Tassel-berry)
    • Ficus sur (Broom-cluster fig)
    • Terminalia sericea (Silver cluster-leaf)
  • Egg-laying season is from August-October.
  • It probably lays a single egg, which is mainly incubated by the female for about 49-51 days. The male may take over for short stints, early in the incubation period.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of shredded snake flesh, although at first the male does most of the hunting, while the female cares for the nestling.

Threats

Near-threatened globally and Vulnerable in South Africa, due its small, fragmented distribution and ongoing habitat destruction.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

 

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