Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Congo Serpent-eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis)


French: Serpentaire du Congo German: Kongoschlangenadler Spanish: Culebrera congoleña
Other common names: West African Serpent-eagle

Astur spectabilis


, 1863,

St George Elmina, Ghana


Notwithstanding cline of decreasing colour saturation from W to E#R, paler form batesi appears distinctive and possibly worthy of further study. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. s. spectabilis (Schlegel, 1863) – Sierra Leone E to S Nigeria and W Cameroon.
  • D. s. batesi Sharpe, 1904 – S Cameroon E to W Uganda and S to Gabon, Congo and SC DRCongo; NW Angola.
  • Descriptive notes

    50–60 cm; wingspan 94–106 cm. Short, rounded wings and long, rounded tail distinctive; somewhat Accipiter-like. Most likely to be confused with ... read more


    Few published data. Gives nasal "cow cow cow..." and a cat-like miaowing call has also... read more


    Lowland tropical rainforest; inhabits understorey habitats. Recorded from sea-level to 900 m.

    Food and feeding

    Mainly reptiles, especially snakes (with their prey), chameleons and lizards, and some toads; small mammals also recorded as stomach... read more


    Unrecorded. Indications of breeding Oct–Dec in Gabon, sometime during period Jun–Nov in Zaire. Regularly utters loud crowing... read more


    No movements recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Appears to be rather common in many larger tracts of forest, judging from calls, but inconspicuous except for persistent... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Congo Serpent-eagle (Dryotriorchis spectabilis). 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 21 February 2020).