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The Black-Chested Snake Eagle

A game drive can be extremely action packed when not just looking for the big mammals. The Black-chested snake eagle (Circaetus pectoralis), also known as black-breasted harrier eagle is one of the many eagle species to be seen at Kololo and Welgevonden. It is easily recognizable in flight with its white belly and dark head.

Wildlife photographers and bird fanatics travel from all over the world to film and photograph the birds in the Waterberg region. The Black Chested Snake eagle are amongst the 300 different species to be found here. Other eagle species that are seen quite frequently are the African Fish eagle, Brown snake eagle and African Hawk eagle.


The Black-Chested Snake Eagle is quite adaptable and can be found in a wide variety of habitats including savannah, bushveld, semi-arid and even desert areas. They can be found throughout southern Africa, and all the way up to Ethiopia, Sudan and Angola. The most important thing for this eagle to survive is an open terrain to hunt in and something to hunt. As the name suggest, this bird mostly eat snakes, but will also catch other reptiles, small mammals and amphibians.


The Black-Chested Snake Eagle require big trees to perch and nest in. It is believed that this eagle in territorial and monogamous and both male and female help to build the nest. The female will lay only one egg at a time in the months of June and August and is incubated for 50 days. The youngster will then depend on the mother to feed it with food provided from the father for 3 months before finally leaving the nest.


This is quite a large bird of prey, it can grow up to 68 cm in length, 2200 g, and reach a wingspan of approximately 178 cm.


Lynette Fourie