• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Brown Snake Eagle - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Steve G
Bondali, Western Division, The Gambia, November 2005

Alternative name: Brown Harrier Eagle

Circaetus cinereus


  • Dark brown
  • Three narrow grey bars on white tipped tail
  • Essentially unbarred flight feathers on wings
  • Pale grey cere, legs and feet
  • Yellow iris
  • Black bill and feet
  • Featherless legs


Sub-Saharan Africa. Widespread but patchy distribution breeding from Senegal and Gambia east to Ethiopia and Somalia and south to eastern South Africa. Absent from the closed forest areas of West and Central Africa and from much of the arid south-west. Uncommon to locally common over most of range.



This is a monotypic species[1].

Notice the tight barring on the tail in contrast to (almost) unbarred flight feathers on wings
Photo © by balticbird
Ethiopia, February 1997


Woodlands, edges of forest, savanna, and farmed land with scattered tall trees; avoids dense forest and very open country.



The diet includes mainly snakes, large lizards and small mammals.


It builds a nest of sticks and leaves, placed on top of trees. The single large, round, white egg is incubated by the female for 45 days.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. BF Member observations
  3. Birdforum thread discussing id of this species

Recommended Citation

External Links