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Sulawesi Serpent Eagle
Spilornis rufipectus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Celebes Serpent-eagle, Sulawesi Serpent-eagle.

Spilornis rufipectus
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Distribution: Indomalayan. Endemic to SULAWESI and Sula Islands. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. S. r. rufipectus: SULAWESI and nearby islands; S. r. sulaensis: SULA ISLANDS, ?Peleng, and Banggai.

Taxonomy: Formerly considered to be a subspecies of S. cheela (e.g., Stresemann and Amadon 1979).

Movements: Probably non-migratory.

Habitat and Habits: Inhabits primary lowland, hill, and, locally, montane forest. Also occurs in tall secondary forest, scrub woodland, forest edge, and lightly wooded cultivation. Often hunts over adjacent open grassland. Usually seen flying at a moderately low height above the canopy, but occasionally much higher. Perches conspicuously on an exposed treetop branch or lower at the forest edge, but also in concealed perches below the canopy. Seen singly, or in pairs (Coates and Bishop 1997).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on lizards, small snakes, and occasionally small mammals (rodents) (Coates and Bishop 1997). It is often seen foraging over open grassland, and it is attracted to grass fires (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).

Breeding: Fledged young have been recorded in May, so the breeding season may be from January to April (Ferguson-Lees and Chritie 2001).

Conservation: Up until the mid-1080s, this was regarded as a threatened species, but subsquent investigations have shown that it is actually common on several areas studied over the last decade (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Deforestation is probably the major threat to this species, although this species shows some adaptability to habitat modification. It is categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International.

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population, including all adults and non-breeding immatures at the start of the breeding season, at between 10,000 to 100,000 individuals, based on rather conservative assumptions about territory size. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the number of mature birds at 10,000, noting that the supporting data for the estimate are poor.

Important References: 
Amadon, D. 1974. Taxonomic notes on the serpent-eagles of the genus
  Spilornis. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 94:159-163.
Clark, W.S. 1994. Sulawesi Serpent-eagle. Pp. 133-134 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Coates, B.J., and K.D. Bishop. 1997. A guide to the birds of Wallacea,
  Sulawesi, the Moluccas and Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia. Dove
  Publications, Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
van Balen, B.S. 1998. Tropical forest raptors in Indonesia: recent
  information on distribution, status, and conservation. Journal of Raptor
  Research 32:56-63.

Last modified: 6/11/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Sulawesi Serpent Eagle Spilornis rufipectus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 27 Jan. 2022

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