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Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

The Crested Serpent Eagle breeds in southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka to south China, south east Asia and Indonesia. It is a forest bird which builds a stick nest in a tree near water and lays a single egg.

The Crested Serpent Eagle is a medium large raptor at about 55-75cm in length. Adults have dark brown upperparts and head, and have a hooded appearance at rest. The underparts and underwing coverts are pale brown. In soaring flight, the broad wings are held in a shallow V. The tail and underside of the flight feathers are black with broad white bars. When perched, they appear large headed and owl like due to the shape of the face and positioning of the eyes.

The call is a distinctive Kluee-wip-wip with the first note being high and rising. They call a lot in the late mornings from perches or as they rise on the thermals in the mornings.

Sexes are visually similar, but young birds have a whitish head, underparts and underwing, the latter showing darker barring.

The Crested Serpent Eagle, as its English and scientific names suggest, is a specialist reptile eater which hunts over woodland for snakes and lizards.

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