Indian Crested Serpent Eagle, a member of Accipitridae family, is scientifically known as Spilornis cheela. It is a specialist reptile eater, which mainly hunts snakes and lizards.
A medium-sized raptor, Crested Serpent Eagle of India is 55 to 75 cm in
length. The adult eagle is adorned with brown plumage. The upper portion
of the body, including the breast and head, is dark brown in color,
while the wings and scapulars are covered with white spots. The inner
parts of Indian Crested Serpent Eagles are quite pale in color, almost
The tail as well as underside of flight feathers are black and have a
broad white band. There is a crest on nape, which is again of brown
color, barred with white. The bill is quite strong, black in color and
slightly curved. Eyes, legs and feet are yellow. The wings are short and
broad. The young birds have white colored head, underparts and
The first few days of the young ones after hatching are spent under the
protection of the parents. The feathers start appearing after 21 days.
By one month, almost the whole body of the chicks gets covered with
feathers and they are able to stand independently. The first flight is
taken only after crossing two months of age.
Crested Serpent Eagle is a solitary creature, found occupying the same
territorial boundaries for years. However, it may form pairs, in which
case, the companionship continues throughout the year. The call of a
Crested Serpent Eagles is quite distinctive and comes across as
'Kluee-wip-wip'. One can hear them calling mainly in the morning.
Crested Serpent Eagles are found inhabiting all kinds of Indian
forests, mangroves and scrubs, upto 1200 m in altitude.
The geographical region of Crested Serpent Eagle includes the area from
South Asia, including Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka, to Southeast
Asia and further extending to southern China and Indonesia.
Crested Serpent Eagles has the habit of living in the same place for
years to come. Even the nesting takes place in the same area every time,
though not the same tree. The nest is made up of sticks and is situated
at a height of not less than 6 m. The female lays only one egg at a time
and the incubation period lasts for about 35 days. The breeding season
varies from one place to another. The responsibility of feeding the
chicks is shared by both the parents.
The diet of the Crested Serpent Eagle of India mainly includes reptiles
like snakes, lizards and frogs. Small birds and small mammals such as
mice, and large insects also form a part of the diet.
Indian Crested Serpent Eagles are facing a major threat from the loss
and deterioration of their habitat.