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Crested Serpent Eagle

Midhun Perumbavoor
Crested Serpent Eagle

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Generally, Crested Serpent Eagles are dark from above with a lighter brown underside. They have white spots and streaks on their wing coverts and scapulars and the underside of their flight feathers is black with broad white bands. The nape of neck and the crown are black, while the crest is brown and barred with white. The breast is barred or a solid color, and the belly, thighs, and crissum are rufous with dark barring and white spots. The tail is black with a white tip and thick white bar. The wings are short and broad. When the crest is raised in alarm, it frames the entire face. Legs are unfeathered, and the eyes are bright yellow.


The subspecies are very different in color when compared to each other. The nominate species S. c. cheela is the largest of the subspecies and is dark brown from above with a thinly-barred breast and one tail band. The following subspecies are compared to the nominate (if a characteristic is unmentioned, it is the same):
S. c. batu is smaller, and darker in color;
S. c. bido, medium-sized, has a dark breast and upperparts, and clear white spots on the belly
They occur in a wide range of habitats, including rain forest, open savannah, mangrove swamps, plantations, ravines, evergreen and deciduous forest, and tidal creeks. Crested Serpent Eagles tolerate habitat disturbance, as long as there are some large trees. They live from 0-1,500 meters above sea level, but go as high as 2,500 m in Taiwan and 3,350 m in Nepal. They are irruptive or local migrants.
Their range spans the Indian subcontinent and southern Asia, from the Himalayas, the Kashmir region, and Nepal east to Tibet, southern China, and the Malay peninsula, along with the Philippines, Indonesia, Borneo, and the Andaman Islands. Their total distribution size is 7,720,000 km², from 35°N to 9°S.

#wild_life #birds_nepal