basic information

Short-toed Snake-Eagle

Circaetus gallicus (Gmelin, 1788)

Обыкновенный змееяд | Жыланжегіш бүркіт

Ryskulov region, Zhambyl oblast
© Askar Isabekov


Breeds in south of Kazakhstan, and also in Altai, Mugodzhary and Central Kazakhstan. On migration occurs almost everywhere. Please see detailed distribution in the section Subspecies.


Rare breeding migrant, but quite common in some areas. Inhabits the low xerophytic mountains and foothills of the main Tien Shan ridges; the river valleys with scattered trees; the sandy and clay deserts with low and sparse grass. In southern mountains it nests up to 2500 m (Chatkal ridge), but the hunting bird was recorded at 3300 m. Appears in the end of March – early April in southern areas; to the northern areas it arrives in mid-end April. Breeds in separate pairs at least 2-3 km from each other. Nest is built on the rock or tree (saxaul, russian olive, asiatic poplar, juniper, hawthorn or pine), not far from the ground; nest is constructed from the dry twigs; unlined but often with some green twigs. Nest is usually used for some years, birds repair it every year. Clutches of one egg is in mid-May – June; both parents incubate for approximately 30 days. Chick hatches in mid – end June, and fledges in July – August. The latest feeding of juvenile bird observed 20 September 1949. Autumn migration begins in the end of August – early September. At Chokpak Pass Snake-Eagles migrate mainly in the second of half of September – early October. On 7 October 1967 29 Snake-Eagles were counted. Migrates singly or in groups by three birds, often with other birds of prey.


Circaetus gallicus gallicus (Gmelin, 1788)

    Description. The lesser race of species. Male wing length 520-552 (532), female 420-570 (539) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds on Mugodzhary ridge, in Central and possibly Northern Kazakhstan. One bird (probably immature) observed 16 July 2000 near Sary-Moin lake. Occurs widespread on migration.

Circaetus gallicus heptneri (Dementiev, 1932)

    Description. The larger race of species. Male wing length 542-585 (552), female 561-605 (589) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds in south Kazakhstan from Mangyshlak easward to Dzhungarskiy Alatau, in foothills of Narymskiy ridge on Southern Altai. In 1990 nested on south-western spurs of Monrak ridge and observed in summer at Kalbinskiy Altai. Breeds also on Ile valley, in Taukum desert and Zhusandala. In said areas occurs on migration.


Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.



Circaetus gallicus gallicus
(Gmelin, 1788)
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Circaetus gallicus heptneri
(Dementiev, 1932)
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