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Madagascan Serpent Eagle
02 08 073 Eutriorchis astur
Information
Common Name Serpentaire de Madagascar and Culebrera Azor
Range Madagascar
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Accipitriformes
Family Accipitridae
Genus Eutriorchis
Species Eutriorchis astur
Conservation Status
ENSpecies
Endangered

The Madagascan serpent eagle serpentaire de Madagascar, or culebrera azor (Eutriorchis astur), is a species of eagle in the Accipitridae family. It is placed in the monotypic genus Eutriorchis. It is endemic to Madagascar.

Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Description

The Madagascan 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. It measures 57 to 66 cm (22 to 26 in) long with a wingspan of 90 to 110 cm (35 to 43 in).

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 lemurs both large and small, 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.

Etymology

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.

Conservation

This species was believed to be extinct, with the last confirmed sighting being from 1930. 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.

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