Black-chested Snake-Eagle ( Circaetus pectoralis, family: Accipitridae)

Birds & Birding in the Kruger National Park South Africa. In Roberts 6 this bird was called Black-breasted Snake-Eagle

black chested snake eagle kruger national park birds The Black-chested Snake-Eagle (Latin name Circaetus pectoralis) is described in Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition. This bird has a unique Roberts number of 143 and you will find a full description of this bird on page 493 also a picture of the Black-chested Snake-Eagle on page 496. The Black-chested Snake-Eagle belongs to the family of birds classified as Accipitridae. According to the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology the Black-chested Snake-Eagle is also known by these other names: European Snake-Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Black-chested Harrier-Eagle, Serpent Eagle.

In the previous edition of Roberts (ie 6th edition) the Black-chested Snake-Eagle was called the Black-breasted Snake-Eagle

The map of the Kruger you see on this page shows the areas (coloured orange) where this bird has been identified. The basic information was provided by the Avian Demographic Unit based at UCT and I created the maps from that information ... the green dots show the locations of the various Kruger National Park Rest Camps

The Black-chested Snake-Eagle is neither Endemic or near Endemic to the Kruger National Park. It is however a common resident

In terms of distribution of the Black-chested Snake-Eagle in the Kruger National Park you may not see it in all areas. Black-chested Snake-Eagle : see above distribution map.

The Black-chested Snake-Eagle.

Kruger Park Black Breasted Snake EagleIdentification assistance for this avian species ...

One of the first indicators to take note of when trying to identify a bird is it relative size. For example how big is the bird compared to a well known familiar bird. The Black-chested Snake-Eagle is a largish bird somewaht larger than a Pied Crow. The height of the Black-chested Snake-Eagle is about 68 cms and its weight is about 1500 gms

The male and female Black-chested Snake-Eagle have the same plumage and colours

  • Head is black, brown.
  • Eye is orange.
  • Bill is black.
  • Throat is black.
  • Back is grey, brown.
  • Legs are yellow.

This bird has normally proportioned leg length.

Main diet items for this bird ...

The Black-chested Snake-Eagle feeds on the ground mainly


Smaller animals


Breeding and nesting habits for this bird ...

The Black-chested Snake-Eagle is monogamous unless its mate dies. In the event of a partner dying Circaetus pectoralis will seek out a new mate

The nesting habit of Black-chested Snake-Eagle is to create the nest in branches of a tree or shrub. The bird lays eggs which are white in colour and number between 1

Habitat and flocking behaviour for this bird ...

The preferred habitats for Black-chested Snake-Eagle are: woodlands and arid areas including grasslands

You will normally see the Black-chested Snake-Eagle in flocks.

Names of this avian species in other languages ...

Xhosa ... Unknown

Zulu ... uKhozi

Afrikaans ...Swartborsslangarend

German ... Schwarzbrust-Schlangenadler

Portuguese ... guia-cobreira-de-peito-preto

French ... Circate poitrine noire

Dutch ... 0

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For in-depth birding information please refer to these authoritative avian references ...

Robert's 7th edition number ... 143

The main reference source for this data was "Roberts - Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition" . Other references were "Newmans Birds of the Kruger Park" by Keith Newman published circa 1980 . Names in foreign languages were obtained from the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town website ,