Circaetus gallicus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae

Scientific Name: Circaetus gallicus
Species Authority: (Gmelin, 1788)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Short-toed Snake-eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Taxonomic Notes: Circaetus gallicus (including beaudouini) and C. pectoralis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) were previously lumped into C. gallicus following Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993). Following a review by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group all three are now considered distinct species based on evidence provided by Clark (1999) and Kemp (1994).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2013-11-03
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Khwaja, N., Temple, H. & Ashpole, J
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over 10 years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2013 Least Concern (LC)
2012 Least Concern (LC)
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2006 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Not Recognized (NR)
2000 Not Recognized (NR)
1994 Not Recognized (NR)
1988 Not Recognized (NR)

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Andorra; Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Benin; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; China; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Czech Republic; Egypt; Estonia; Ethiopia; France; Gambia; Georgia; Ghana; Gibraltar; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lebanon; Liberia; Libya; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mali; Mauritania; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Myanmar; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Somalia; South Sudan; Spain (Canary Is. - Vagrant); Sudan; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Western Sahara; Yemen; Zambia
Austria; Belgium; Bhutan; Cambodia; Cyprus; Denmark; Finland; Germany; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Lesotho; Luxembourg; Malaysia; Malta; Mongolia; Netherlands; Norway; Sierra Leone; Sweden; United Kingdom
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 6880000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2300
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 17,600-20,900 breeding pairs, equating to 35,100-41,800 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 34% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 103,000-123,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. It is placed in the band 100,000 to 200,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. The European population is considered Stable (BirdLife International 2015). However declines have been reported in West Africa (Thiollay 2007).
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 100000-200000 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Behaviour Birds breeding in the Palearctic are migratory, with the population in South-East Asia resident. Most migrants winter in tropical North Africa, with some eastern birds moving to the Indian Subcontinent (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Migrants move south between August and November, and north between February and May (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Birds are usually observed singly or in pairs, even on migration, though migrants will sometimes form groups of up to 12 (Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). They soar at c.20-100 m above the ground (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat It uses a variety of habitats within warm temperate and tropical environments, and is recorded up to 2,300 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet It specialises in feeding on reptiles, particularly snakes (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site The nest is almost always built relatively low in a tree (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Although occurring in many habitats, the species always requires some degree of tree cover (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 12.9
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The species suffered a marked decline in northern Europe in the 19th-20th centuries, due to habitat loss and persecution (Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). In Europe, changes in agriculture and land use have reduced the extent of suitable hunting habitat. In addition snake populations have been reduced by increased cultivation of monocultures, hedge destruction, use of pesticides and the abandonment of traditional farmland and subsequent afforestation. Habitat fragmentation in Europe has resulted from forest fires and road construction. It still suffers from shooting on Malta (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Nest destruction and powerlines represent additional threats (Tucker and Heath 1994). It is also very highly vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012). In its West African range, the species is vulnerable to habitat degradation through wood harvesting and overgrazing as well as exposure to pesticides (Thiollay 2007).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Circaetus gallicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22734216A80165019. . Downloaded on 26 November 2015.
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