Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Kinabalu Serpent-eagle (Spilornis kinabaluensis)


French: Serpentaire du Kinabalu German: Bergschlangenweihe Spanish: Culebrera del Kinabalu
Other common names: Mountain Serpent Eagle

Spilornis cheela kinabaluensis

W. L. Sclater

, 1919,

Mount Kinabalu, north Borneo


Considered closely related to S. cheela, S. holospilus, S. klossi and S. rufipectus. Taxonomic status uncertain: sometimes regarded as race of S. cheela, but altitudinally segregated and vocalizations quite different. Monotypic.


Mountains of N & C Borneo, from Mt Kinabalu (W Sabah) S at least to Mt Mulu (NE Sarawak) and Mt Murud (NE Kalimantan).

Descriptive notes

c. 51–58 cm; wingspan 118–129 cm. Large-headed, broad-winged dark serpent-eagle; differs from S. cheela in darker overall coloration, longer wings and... read more


Reportedly similar to S. cheela, but distinctive. High-pitched whistles; described calls... read more


Montane and submontane evergreen forests; tendency to prefer ridgetop forest. Occupies higher... read more

Food and feeding

Particularly snakes and lizards; diet generally similar to that of S. cheela.


Nest and eggs unknown, but adults with two fledged young observed in Crocker Range in early Nov.


Apparently sedentary.

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. CITES II. Very small range, and probably small population likely decreasing because of continuing habitat loss and degradation. From assessment of known records,... read more

Recommended citation

Clark, W.S., Kirwan, G.M. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Kinabalu Serpent-eagle (Spilornis kinabaluensis). 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).