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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Brown Snake-eagle

Afrikaans name: Bruinslangarend

Circaetus cinereus in flight

Brown Snake-eagle

Photo © Steven Herbert

Circaetus cinereus

The Brown Snake-eagle is probably the most common of the Snake-eagles in its range which covers the northern and north-eastern regions of South Africa.

It spends a lot of time perched on a high branch from where it surveys the ground below. When perched its large yellow eyes are one of its distinguishing features. In flight it shows a lot of white colouration.

The Brown Snake-eagle mainly feeds off snakes and, interestingly, most of the species that it has been recorded as catching are venomous ones. These include puff adders, cobras and mambas. It also catches other reptiles such as lizards and some mammals and birds.

They make a nest from sticks and leaves high up in a flat-crowned tree. Only one egg is laid. The femal does most of the work in incubating the egg and raising the chick. The male does at times bring food for the female while she is on the nest.

Brown Snake-eagle

The Brown Snake-eagle has large yellow eyes

Photo © Steven Herbert


References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 130

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 66

Birds of Prey of Southern Africa - Author: Peter Steyn - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 115

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 17

Eagle Days - Author: Peter Steyn - Year Published: 1973 - Page: 119

Eagles, Hawks & Falcons of the World - Author: Leslie Brown and Dean Amadon - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 350

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 54

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 127

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 123

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 102

The Status & Conservation of Birds of Prey in the Transvaal - Author: W. Tarboton and D. Allan - Year Published: 1984 - Page: 56

List of South African Birds

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