The Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) is a bird of prey. Like all eagles, it is in the family Accipitridae.
The Crested Serpent Eagle can be found in a large geographical region from South Asia, including Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, to Southeast Asia, extending to southern China and Indonesia. This forest bird nests in treetops near fresh water. Its nests are constructed with sticks and contain not more than a single egg at a time.
The Crested Serpent Eagle is a medium large raptor at about 55-75cm in length. Adults have dark brown upperparts and head, and have a hooded appearance at rest. The underparts and underwing coverts are pale brown. In soaring flight, the broad wings are held in a shallow V. The tail and underside of the flight feathers are black with broad white bars. When perched, they appear large headed and owl-like due to the shape of the face and positioning of the eyes.
The call is a distinctive Kluee-wip-wip with the first note being high and rising. They call a lot in the late mornings from perches or as they rise on the thermals in the mornings.
Sexes are visually similar, but young birds have a whitish head, underparts and underwing, the latter showing darker barring.
The Crested Serpent Eagle, as its English and scientific names suggest, is a specialist reptile eater which hunts over woodland for snakes and lizards.
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