Western Banded Snake-eagle

Circaetus cinerascens
Population status:
Least Concern
Body length:
60 cm (23 in)
114 cm (44.8 in)
1126 g (39.7 oz)
Western Banded Snake-eagle

Munir Virani

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Did You Know?

  • This Banded Snake-eagle is also known as the Banded Harrier-eagle
  • This bird will often swallow its prey - mainly snakes - whole!

Other Eagles

How The Peregrine Fund is Helping

Though The Peregrine Fund doesn't work directly with Banded Snake-eagles, our efforts in scientific research, habitat conservation, education, and community development help conserve birds of prey around the world. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation.

Where They Live

The Banded Snake-eagle has a patchy distribution within sub-Saharan Africa. It spends its time in riparian woodlands, along forest edges and clearings, and in savanna woodland. 

What They Do

Researchers have described this species as being "secretive" and, thus is often overlooked by researchers and birdwatchers. If you are in Banded Snake-eagle habitat, be sure to look up and listen! It does spend some time calling while it soars high in the sky. 

This bird tends to spend most of its time alone, perched on high branches of snags over open areas, including wetlands. 

Why They Need our Help

This beautiful raptor is categorized as a species of Least Concern. Even so, it does face some threats including habitat loss and even elephant damage to riparian habitats. It is possible that this species' population is in decline. 

What They Eat

As you would expect of a bird with the words "snake-eagle" in its name, the Banded Snake-eagle feeds heavily on both venomous and non-venomous snakes. It also eats other reptiles, including lizards, as well as frogs, fish, and insects.

It most often snatches its prey from tree branches. 

Nests, Eggs, and Young

Banded Snake-eagles construct relatively small nests which they construct out of sticks, and then line with green leaves. They choose to build their nest in a concealed spot, usually behind or within vegetation.   

The female will lay one egg per clutch. 

Banded Snake-eagle and the World Center for Birds of Prey

The World Center for Birds of Prey offers fun ways to learn about raptors of all kinds. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room with activities from coloring sheets and quizzes to costumes and a touch table are available for the curious mind. We also have several different birds of prey on display year-round, including several eagle species! Though we don't have any resident Banded Snake-eagles at the World Center for Birds of Prey, if you visit you will be rewarded with an opportunity to meet Fancy, our resident Ornate Hawk-eagle, and Grayson a Harpy Eagle. At the visitor center, you will see these amazing birds of prey, and more, up close in our outdoor aviary. Our knowledgeable staff is on hand to answer any questions you may have. 


BirdLife International. 2016. Circaetus cinerascensThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22695283A93500828. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22695283A93500828.en. Downloaded on 24 August 2021.

Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Western Banded Snake Eagle Circaetus cinerascens. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 24 Aug. 2021

Kemp, A. C. and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Banded Snake-Eagle (Circaetus cinerascens), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.baseag1.01