Short-toed Snake-Eagle

Circaetus gallicus - Accipitridae - Falconiformes. | Bangalore, India
Canon EOS 7D, EF500mm f/4L IS USM, ISO 400, Shutter speed 1/1000 Sec, Aperture f/5.6
Short-toed Snake-Eagle photographed at Bangalore, India

The short-toed snake eagle is a bird of prey that can be found throughout much of Europe, Asia, and Africa. This bird is named for its distinctive habit of hunting and feeding primarily on snakes, although it also feeds on other reptiles and small mammals.

The short-toed snake eagle is a medium-sized raptor, measuring around 60-70 cm in length and with a wingspan of 165-185 cm. This bird is easily recognized by its unique features, including its broad, rounded wings and long tail. Its plumage is predominantly brown, with a pale head and underside, and its eyes are a striking yellow color.

One of the most notable aspects of the short-toed snake eagle's behavior is its hunting technique. As its name suggests, this bird is an expert at capturing snakes, and it does so in a very specific manner. Rather than attacking from above, like many other raptors, the short-toed snake eagle will fly low over the ground, scanning the terrain for prey. When it spots a snake, it will swoop down and grab it with its talons, then fly back up to a perch to eat. In addition to snakes, the short-toed snake eagle also feeds on lizards, frogs, and small mammals like rodents. It is an opportunistic feeder and will take advantage of whatever prey is available in its environment.

The short-toed snake eagle is a migratory bird, with populations in Europe and Asia traveling south to Africa for the winter months. During the breeding season, this bird prefers open habitats like grasslands and savannas, where it can hunt for snakes more easily. Its breeding season typically begins in March, and it lays a single egg that is incubated by both parents.

Unfortunately, like many bird species, the short-toed snake eagle is under threat from habitat loss and human disturbance. The decline of snake populations due to habitat destruction and persecution by humans is also a major threat to this bird. However, efforts are being made to conserve and protect this species, and it is currently classified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.