Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sri Lankan Crested Serpent Eagle

The crested serpent eagle (Spilornis cheela) is found across tropical Asia and has 21 subspecies. The Sri Lankan crested serpent eagle subspecies (S. c. spilogaster) is found only in Sri Lanka. 
Crested serpent eagle. 
It hunts over forests and wet grasslands, and as its name suggests, it is fond of snakes and lizards and will eat other animals such as amphibians, birds, small mammals and fish. 

It is dark brown, the underside is spotted with white and yellowish/brown, it has a short black and white crest, yellow bare facial skin and feet,  and the tail and underside of the flight feathers are black with broad white bars. Juveniles have a whitish head, underparts and underwing. 
Yellow bare facial skin.
White and yellowish-brown spots on the chest. 
Yellow feet and black and white tail. 
We saw quite a few of them. The first was in Dambulla, sitting on a telephone pole. 
Crested serpent eagle in Dambulla. 
Backside view of the same bird. 
We saw several in Udawalawe National Park and several in Yala National Park. 
From a distance in Udawalawe.
In Udawalawe.
In Yala NP.
The one juvenile we photographed was in Yala and identified by our guide, Sanjay. I would have had a hard time identifying it as a serpent eagle. 
Juvenile in Yala NP.
View of back and crest. 
It is lacking the yellow facial skin. 
The crest mostly lays flat, much more so than the crested hawk eagles we saw. One source says it raises its crest when alarmed. 

1 comment:

  1. The yellow skin around its eyes looks like a mask. I love the more distinct markings on the juvenile hawk's chest.