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Snake-Eagles Are Awesome

A bird or a sci-fi hybrid?
© Yoel Ronen View Large

When a soaring Short-toed Snake-Eagle spots a delicious snake, it swoops down, grabs it with its talons, then tears off the snake’s head. Still on the wing, it swallows the entire snake, head first. Smaller than Bald Eagles, they live mainly in Africa and have legs and toes covered in thick scales to protect them from bites. Snake-Eagles take on some of the swiftest and deadliest snakes in the world, like cobras and black mambas.
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Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Snake-Eagles Are Awesome

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
Snake-eagles are pretty incredible.
That name — “snake-eagle” — may conjure up some kind of fearsome sci-fi hybrid, spawned in a secret laboratory. But snake-eagles are for real.
[Short-toed Snake-Eagle calls, http://www.xeno-canto.org/366048, 0.15-20]
And they are awesome, big birds of prey. When a soaring snake-eagle spots a delicious snake, it swoops down suddenly, grabbing with its talons. Then it immediately flies upward, as the snake writhes and strikes. The first order of business is to minimize the danger, so the eagle crushes or tears off the snake’s head. Still on the wing, it then swallows the entire snake, head first.
Snake-eagles are a bit smaller than Bald Eagles. There are six different species. And they live mainly in Africa, although one ranges as far as Europe and India.
[male Short-toed Snake-Eagle calls, http://www.xeno-canto.org/240492, 0.2-.06]
Snake-eagle legs and toes are covered in thick scales that help protect them from bites. And bites are a serious risk: snake-eagles take on some of the swiftest and deadliest snakes in the world, like cobras and black mambas.
[Short-toed Snake-Eagle calls, http://www.xeno-canto.org/366048, 0.15-20]
But not every meal is a battle with a deadly adversary. When not snatching snakes, snake-eagles may also hunt lizards, rodents, and even bats or fish.
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
BirdNote is flying south in March 2018. We’ll experience Costa Rica’s amazing birds and wildlife-- and you can join us! More at BirdNote.org.
                                                                               ###
Bird sounds provided by XENO CANTO 366048 recorded by Marco Dragonetti and  XC240492 recorded by Jarek Matusiak.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2017 Tune In to Nature.org   December 2017   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#     snake-eagle-01-2017-12-05     snake-eagle-01         

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