Mountain Serpent Eagle (Spilornis kinabaluensis)

Mountain Serpent Eagle

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Spilornis kinabaluensis | [authority] Sclater, 1919 | [UK] Mountain Serpent Eagle | [FR] Serpentaire de Kinabalu | [DE] Berg-Schlangenweihe | [ES] Culebrera de Kinabalu | [NL] Kinabalu-slangearend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Spilornis kinabaluensis OR Borneo


Members of the genus Spilornis are mostly rather large hawks, ranging to rather small. Essentially there is only one widespread form from India to Celebes and the Philippines, with many well-marked island forms. Only on the Andaman Islands has there been a `double invasion’ with two spccies co-existing, and even they appear to be separated ecologically with one living inland and the other in the mangrove swamps. The Celebes and Philippine forms are recognised as distinct; as are some of the dwarf races of the Nicobars and Sumatran Islands.

Physical charateristics

Small, dark, forest-dwelling eagle. Plumage dark brown, speckled paler on underparts, wings and hindneck. Rich umber-brown patch on nape. Black throat. Fairly long, blackish tail with broad white band. Long wings with black tips and white bases to flight feathers. Its widespread relative, Crested Serpent-eagle S. cheela, is paler with shorter wings and narrower, less distinct greyish-white band on tail. The plumage, flight silhouette and different calls of this bird all support the
notion that it is distinct from Crested Serpent-eagle Spilornis cheela

Listen to the sound of Mountain Serpent Eagle

[audio: Serpent Eagle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 51 cm size max.: 55 cm
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broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
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Oriental Region : Borneo. Spizaetus kinabaluensis is confined to the mountains of central and northern Borneo in Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia, and Kalimantan, Indonesia


It is apparently sedentary in submontane and montane evergreen rainforest where it tends to prefer ridge-top forest between 750-2,900 m. In areas where it occurs alongside S. cheela it is separated vertically by a few hundred metres.


No data. The only information appears to be an observation of adults with two flying young at c.900 m,

Feeding habits

Mostly snakes and lizards, probably same feeding habits as S. cheela.


Given the small range and relative mobility of this species, it is judged to comprise a single small population which is likely to be decreasing as a result of continuing habitat loss and degradation creeping up hill-slopes into its altitudinal range. For these reasons it qualifies as Vulnerable.
Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation is the primary threat to the species towards the lower limits of its distribution, where the extent of forest is diminishing fairly rapidly in the face of agricultural expansion and intensification.
Mountain Serpent Eagle status Vulnerable



Distribution map

Mountain Serpent Eagle distribution range map

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