Wild Birds

Madagascar Serpent-eagles

Madagascar Serpent-eagles

The Madagascar Serpent-eagles, Serpentaire de Madagascar, or Culebrera Azor (Eutriorchis astur) is a species of bird of prey in the Accipitridae family. It is monotypic within the genus Eutriorchis. It is endemic to Madagascar.

It inhabits subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. The continued existence of this species is threatened by habitat destruction.

A Close-up View Of Madagascar Serpent-eagles or Culebrera Eagle
A Close-up View Of Madagascar Serpent-eagles or Culebrera Eagle


The Madagascar Serpent-eagles is a medium-sized raptor with a long rounded tail and short rounded wings. It is dark grey on its back and a lighter grey on its belly, breast, and throat. Dark barring covers the bird’s body. It has yellow eyes and a sharp, hooked beak with strong talons.

Distribution and habitat

This bird inhabits dense, humid, and broad-leafed evergreen forests in northeastern and east-central Madagascar. It rarely ventures above 550 meters (1800 ft).

Ecology and behavior

This serpent-eagle is diurnal. It eats snakes, lizards, and frogs, which it hunts from high perches, swooping down from its perch and grasping its prey in its talons when it spots it.


This species was believed to be extinct, with the last confirmed sighting being from 1950. However, sightings in 1977 and 1988 led to hope for the species’ rediscovery. It was rediscovered in 1993 by the Peregrine Fund.

This species is threatened by the destruction of its specialized habitat and a presumed low rate of reproduction.


The prefix eu- is Greek for “good”. Triorchis is a Latinization (Pliny the Elder) of Greek triórkhēs (τριόρχης), which Aristotle and Theophrastus used for a kind of hawk, possibly the Common Buzzard. The Greek word means “having three testicles”. This erroneous bit of anatomy has been connected with the ease of mistaking a bird’s adrenal gland for a testicle.

Astur is Latin for a kind of hawk.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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