Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)

STSE_ perched



A commonly found  medium sized slender eagle, which gives an impression of an over sized owl because of its facial appearance reminiscent to that of an Owl.

An active hunter seen either perched, flying. But is characteristic feature is its ability to hover like a Kestral which I have noticed on numerous occasions.


Not a very difficult raptor to identify. Perched eagles are easy due to its owl like face and its overall grey/ creamish plumage.

In flight,it appears to be overall pale / creamish even from a distance combined with its distinct “S” shaped trailing edge should be helpful to ID this in the field.As the bird appears closer its black streaks across the wings appear clearer.

I have seen individuals which are entirely pale and a few of them with an obvious dark grey head and distinct black streaking.


Appear to be a very agile while perched and graceful in flight with wings appearing a little raised while gliding.

On spotting a prey or during investigation it pauses in mid air for a few seconds and then continues to glide and then pause yet again after a few seconds.This pattern / cycle is repetitive 2-3 times before it disappears from the scene.

 Locations Seen

A very well distributed raptor seen in outskirts and highways. Sightings in BLR were at Hoskote Lake,Hessarghatta, Hennagara Lake,Doddaballapur  & one from my roof top at Maratahalli which was a surprise.

In addition Ive seen many individuals across the BLR- MUM highway at Hubli, Davangere.

Sightings at TN were from Salem, Hosur & Krishnagiri  again from the highway.

In GJ good sightings at hazira carcass dump near Surat.


Very well scattered eagle across India.

Notable Observations

Managed to see one chased away by Kites. This sighting was from my roof top at Maratahalli.

Frequency of Sightings

Common raptor and chances of sighting this from the outskirts is high.

short-toed snake eagle _ HoveringSTSE _ moltingSTSE _ top View_ Molting