Mountain Serpent Eagle - Spilornis kinabaluensis | The Eagle Directory

Mountain Serpent Eagle - Spilornis kinabaluensis

Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Spilornis
Species: S. kinabaluensis

Mountain Serpent Eagles are small to medium-sized raptors that live in montane forest on the island of Borneo in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Physical Description:

Mountain Serpent Eagles are dark brown from above with white speckles along the crown and shoulders. The crest is short and the head and throat are black. The breast is reddish-brown and there is white spotting along the belly, flanks, and thighs. The flight feathers are black-tipped with white bases, and the tail is black with a broad white band. The beak, cere, and feet are bright yellow. Legs are unfeathered.

They are similar to and may be confused with Spilornis cheela (Crested Serpent Eagle), but Spilornis kinabaluensis is darker, has longer wings, and the tail band is more visible.

Their call is a high-pitched whistle. Listen to a Mountain Serpent Eagle.


Length: 51-56 cm

Habitat and Distribution:

They are restricted to montane forest, from 750-2,900 meters above sea level.

Mountain Serpent Eagles are found in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and are endemic to the island of Borneo. They are found from 6°N to 4°N in the northern and central regions of the island. Adults are sedentary. There are an estimated 2,500-9,999 individuals over a range of 36,700 km².

Diet and Hunting:

They eat snakes and lizards.


No information.


They are currently listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife International due to their limited montane forest range, which is under threat from logging and conversion for agriculture. The population of Mountain Hawk Eagles is thought to be declining.

Conservation measures undertaken include protection in the Kinabalu and Mulu National Parks in Malaysia and the Temburong National Park in Brunei. Conservation measures proposed include research to determine the exact range and population size of Mountain Serpent Eagles, suggesting future protected areas, and improving management of already-protected areas.


Spilornis kinabaluensis was formerly considered a subspecies of Spilornis cheela (Crested Serpent Eagle).

Other Names:

Kinabalu Serpent Eagle, Orlík kinabalský (Czech), Borneoslangeørn (Danish), Kinabalu-slangearend (Dutch), Mägi-maduhaugas (Estonian), Borneonharjakotka (Finnish), Bergschlangenweihe (German), Elangular Kinabalu (Indonesian), Aquila serpentaria di Kinabalu (Italian), Kinabarukanmuriwashi (Japanese), Helang Kinabalu (Malay), Bornesnokørn (Norwegian), Wezojad górski (Polish), Culebrera del Kinabalu (Spanish), Kinabalutofsörn (Swedish).

Other Multimedia:

None available.

BirdLife International (2012) Species factsheet: Spilornis kinabaluensis. Downloaded from on 22/01/2012.
Global Raptor Information Network. 2012. Species account: Kinabalu Serpent Eagle Spilornis kinabaluensis. Downloaded from on 22 Jan. 2012
BirdLife International 2008. Spilornis kinabaluensis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. Downloaded on 22 January 2012.
Ferguson-Lees, James, and Christie, David A. Raptors of the World. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.