Nias Serpent Eagle - Spilornis asturinus | The Eagle Directory

Nias Serpent Eagle - Spilornis asturinus

Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Spilornis
Species: S. asturinus

Nias Serpent Eagle are very small raptors endemic to the island of Nias, which is 95 km southwest of Sumatra.

Physical Description:

Nias Serpent Eagles are pale brown from above with a gray head, black crown, and dark brown shoulders. Like many other serpent eagles, their crest is short and bushy, which makes them look as though they have large heads. The underside is pale brown with dark streaks and white spots along the flanks, thighs, and belly. The short tail has a white tip, central band, and base. The primary feathers are black. Legs are unfeathered, and the eyes and cere are yellow.


Wing (not wingspan): 290-308 mm
Weight: 420-565 g

Habitat and Distribution:

They live on forested slopes up to the highest point of the island, at 886 meters above sea level.

They are endemic to the island of Nias, 95 miles off the southwest coast of Sumatra. The entire island encompasses only 4,772 km². Adults are probably sedentary.

Diet and Hunting:

They eat snakes and lizards. Unlike other serpent eagles, their shorter tail, longer wings, and pale coloring may suggest that they do not hunt exclusively in the forest.


No information.


Nias Serpent Eagles are probably susceptible to habitat loss, particularly because their island range is so small. They are not recognized by BirdLife International. (See below Taxonomy.)


Spilornis asturinus is treated as a subspecies of Spilornis cheela (Crested Serpent Eagle) by many authorities. However, it is classified as a full species by Ferguson-Lees, James and Christie, David A. (2001); therefore, it is considered a separate species on this website.

Other Names:

Niasslangeørn (Danish), Niase maduhaugas (Estonian), Serpentaire de Nias (French), Serpentario di Nias (Italian), Niasukanmuriwashi (Japanese), Wezojad blady (Polish), Hadiar bledý (Slovak).

Other Multimedia:

None available.

Global Raptor Information Network. 2012. Species account: Nias Serpent Eagle Spilornis asturinus. Downloaded from on 30 Jan. 2012
Ferguson-Lees, James, and Christie, David A. Raptors of the World. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001.