Madagascar Serpent-eagles

The Madagascar Serpent-eagle, 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.


The Madagascar Serpent-eagle 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 broadleafed 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 they hunt from high perches, swooping down from it 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.

Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.