Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Near Threatened

Great Nicobar Serpent-eagle (Spilornis klossi)


French: Serpentaire menu German: Kloss-Schlangenweihe Spanish: Culebrera de Nicobar
Other common names: South Nicobar Serpent-eagle, Nicobar Serpent-eagle

Spilornis klossi


, 1902,

Great Nicobar Island


Considered closely related to S. cheela, S. holospilus, S. kinabaluensis and S. rufipectus. Often considered conspecific with S. cheela; race minimus of latter often awarded full species status, in which case usually considered to include klossi as race (see S. cheela). Present species, however, is distinct in its very small size, comparatively short crest, and very pale plain underside lacking bars and streaks, as well as several other plumage features; also, is sympatric with undescribed race of S. cheela in S Nicobars#R. Monotypic.


Great Nicobar, in S Nicobar Is; recorded also on Little Nicobar and Menchal#R.

Descriptive notes

38–42 cm; no data on body mass; wingspan 85–95 cm. Small, secretive, but confiding serpent eagle, with relatively flat crown, large head and short-looking... read more




Mixed evergreen forest, most frequently in canopy; occurs also in grassland and regenerating... read more

Food and feeding

Little studied; lizards, rats, Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) and small birds recorded. Habits presumably similar to those of... read more


No information available. Apparently no display flight, as species was not seen flying during recent raptor survey in period Mar–Apr... read more


Apparently sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Has extremely small range, within which it is thought to be in decline. BirdLife reports some apparent... read more

Recommended citation

Clark, W.S., Kirwan, G.M. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Great Nicobar Serpent-eagle (Spilornis klossi). 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).