Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Madagascar Serpent Eagle(Eutriorchis astur)

I would like to thank the Global Raptor Information NetworkBirdLife International and the Internet Bird Collection for providing the information on this species and Mr. Dubi Shapiro, Mr. Arthor Chapman, Mr. Frank Vassen, Mr. Christoph Scholz and Mr. Olaf Pronk for letting me use their amazing photographs. 

This species was first recorded in 1875 by Sharpe. It can grow to lengths of 2'2"  and is said to be a medium sized bird. It has brown upper parts, with narrow, blackish bands on the crown, nape, and the ear coverts. Underparts are light brown. It has yellow eyes with long powerful, yellowish, heavily-scaled legs. It's population runs between some 250-999 birds with the numbers decreasing due to habitat reduction and commercial logging activities. A recent Study in 2005 by Lerner and Mindell concluded that the Madagascar Serpent Eagle is closely related to Gypaetinae subfamily which includes the Palm-Nut Vulture, Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), and the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). It is said to live within the Masoala National Park.

Author: Dubi Shapiro

Not too long ago what we knew of this species came from 11 specimens. It was very rare to spot the bird and so it was thought to be in immediate danger of extinction until 1993 when a field team from the Peregrine Fund captured and photographed one of these magnificent birds. then in more recent years thanks to studies by Russell Thorstrom, Lily RenĂ© de Roland, Steve Goodman they have managed to prove that this raptor in more common than previously expected, although they are still quite rare and they are susceptible to habitat loss which makes them even more vulnerable.


Most accounts of the Madagascar Serpent Eagle have been with in the heavy rain forest areas and two of the sights have been near rivers. It might be safe to safe that they reside in areas like the one in the photo below courtesy of Mr. Frank Vassen, who was so kind to let me use his spectacular photo.

AuthorFrank Vassen


A study carried out in 2003 reported the following results from two nest sites, Thorstrom et al. (2003)

- 264 (85.1%) Chameleons and Geckos
- 42 (13.2%) Frogs 
- 2 (0.7%) Snakes
- 2 (0.7%) Bats
- 1 (0.3%) Insect

The chameleons included species from the Calumna and Furcifer genus like the Parson's Chameleon and the Panther Chameleon:

Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis)
 Author: Christoph Scholz

Parson's Chameleon (Calumna parsonii)

There were various geckos but all of them seemed to be from the Leaf-tailed Gecko family like the Giant Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus)
AuthorFrank Vassen

The frogs that were present pertained to the Boophis and Mantidactylus genus. A good example would be the Boophis madagascariensis (Madagascar Bright-eyed Frog)

Author: Arthur Chapman

All of the snakes pertained to the genus Stenophis

Author: © Olaf Pronk


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