Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Beaudouin's Snake-eagle (Circaetus beaudouini)


French: Circaète de Beaudouin German: Beaudouin-Schlangenadler Spanish: Culebrera sudanesa

Circaëtus beaudouini

J. P. Verreaux and Des Murs

, 1862,

Bissau, Guinea-Bissau


Closely related to C. gallicus and C. pectoralis; all three often considered conspecific, as mixed pairs reported, but see C. gallicus. Differs from C. gallicus in its unmarked vs spotted lesser underwing-coverts (2), darker, more contrasting band on trailing edge of underwing (2), uniformly dark upperwing-coverts vs pale patch on same (ns[2]), narrower barring vs coarser barring on belly (ns[1]), and brown-bodied juvenile vs juvenile like adult (3)#R; and from C. pectoralis in its paler head and neck (2), barred vs plain white belly and underwing-coverts (3), and brown-bodied vs rufous-bodied juvenile (3). Monotypic.


S Mauritania and Senegambia E to SW Sudan and W South Sudan. Has bred in NE Mali and N Niger#R and also in Kenya#R

Descriptive notes

60–66 cm; wingspan 155–170 cm. Generally shows darker upperparts and bolder flight-feather markings than C. gallicus, while dark bars on tail tend to be... read more


Considered to be usually silent, but breeding-season calls are purported to be similar to those of... read more


Open woodland and tree savanna, fertile plains (often near water) and even more arid areas... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly snakes, but also other small vertebrates (small mammals, some birds and lizards) and some insects when necessary. Hunts from a... read more


Breeds Nov–Mar, i.e. during wet season, in W Africa, but period probably more extended farther E close to equator. Virtually... read more


A regular seasonal migrant between moist wooded savannas and the Sahel. Most move N in rains and S... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Has small population which has suffered rapid decline within its extensive range, which runs in rather narrow band across N sub-Saharan Africa covering the... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). Beaudouin's Snake-eagle (Circaetus beaudouini). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).