Crested Serpent Eagle

Scientific Name: Spilornis cheela

Malay Name: Helang-Kuik Biasa

Chinese Name: 蛇雕

Range: Found from Indian subcontinent to southern China and Southeast Asia with some northern populations wintering south to Southeast Asia

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: cheela, melanotis, spilogaster, burmanicus, ricketti, malayensis, davisoni, perplexus, hoya, rutherfordi, pallidus, richmondi, natunensis, sipora, batu, asturinus, abbotti, bido, baweanus, palawanensis, minimus.

Local Subspecies: malayensis, burmanicus

Size: 56-74 cm

Identification: Adult has mostly dark brownish plumage, black tail with broad white central band, prominent yellow cere, facial skin and eyes, short blackish crest and small whitish spots/bars on lower breasts and belly. Broad white band across underwing contrasting with broad black trailing edge very prominent when seen in flight from below. Juvenile resembles adult but has duller upperparts with whitish fringes and whitish underparts with dark streaks.

Habitat: Forest, forest edge, secondary growth, wooded area, mangroves, gardens and parks.

Behaviour/Ecology: Feeds primarily on reptiles like snakes, lizards and frogs.

Local Status: Uncommon resident

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

Location: Central Catchment Forest, Malcolm Park, Bidadari, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Chinese Garden, Kent Ridge Park, Sungei Buloh, Sembawang, Springleaf and Pulau Ubin.


BirdLife International. (2016). Spilornis cheela. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Jeyarajasingam, A., & Pearson, A. (2012). A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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