Short-toed snake eagle

   ›      ›   Short-toed snake eagle - Circaetus gallicus.

The short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These short-toed snake eagle species are distributed in Indian Subcontinent, Asia, Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Taxonomy of Short-toed snake eagle

  • Scientific Name: Circaetus gallicus
  • Common Name: Short-toed snake eagle
  • French: Circa├Ęte Jean-le-Blanc; German: Schlangenadler; Spanish: Culebrera europea;
  • Other names: Falco gallicus J. F. Gmelin, 1788; Short-toed eagle;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Gmelin, 1788)
Circaetus gallicus was earlier included in genus Falco. It is closely related to C. beaudouini and C. pectoralis.

Indian birds - Image of Short-toed snake eagle - Circaetus gallicus
Indian birds - Image of Short-toed snake eagle - Circaetus gallicus


The short-toed snake eagle measures 60 to 70 cm in length and weighs 1,200 to 2,000 grams. The female eagle is slightly larger and weighs 1,300 to 2,300 grams. The wingspan is 160 to 190 cm. It has predominantly white underside and the upper parts are greyish brown. It has a rounded head and the chin, throat and upper breast are a pale brown. There are 3 to 4 bars in the tail. The face is owl-like and the eyes are bright yellow. The eagle call is a variety of musical whistling sounds.


The short-toed snake eagle uses a variety of habitats such as open cultivated plains, arid and stony lands, deciduous scrub areas, foothills and semi-desert areas within warm temperate and tropical environments.

Feeding habits

The short-toed eagle feeds mainly on snakes and lizards. Sometimes it is found to prey on small mammals and birds.


The short-toed snake eagle breeds during December and February in Indian subcontinent. It usually nests in trees and lays a single egg.


The short-toed snake eagle is distributed in North Africa, Mediterranean region, southern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Iran, China and Mongolia in Asia, Indian Subcontinent, southeast Asia and Indonesian islands.

Movement Patterns

The eagles from temperate regions migrate southwards for wintering. The population in Southeast Asia is sedentary. The eagle populations in Europe and temperate Asia, winter in North Africa and Indian Subcontinent.

Status and conservation

The short-toed snake eagle global population size is estimated to be between 51,400 to 156,000 individual birds. Considering the extremely large range, these eagle species are least vulnerable. Habitat loss and agricultural activities are the current threats to the survival of these species.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these eagle species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Circaetus gallicus
Species:C. gallicus
Binomial name:Circaetus gallicus
Distribution:Southeast Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Asia, Europe and Africa;
Feeding habits:mainly snakes and lizards, also small mammals and birds;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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