Atlas of nesting birds in Bulgaria

Short-toed Snake-eagle

(Circaetus gallicus)

Category of conservation concern (IUCN, 2020) – Least Concern

Population size: 2020: 204 – 478 pairs (2007: 270 – 320 pairs)

Distribution pattern

Dispersed and grouped throughout the country, more consistently in the open, dry and abundant in reptiles areas of the Eastern Rhodopes, Eastern Stara Planina, Ograzhden, Southern Pirin and the neighbouring parts of the valley of the Struma River, Sakar, Derventa hills, mountains around the Sofia plain, Vratsa Mountain, Iskar Gorge, the border between the Thracian Plain and the Rhodopes, Lomovete, etc. It occurs in altitudes from 0 m to nearly 2000 m above sea level.

Population estimation for the period 2013 – 2020: During the period 2013-2020, the species was established in 271 squares throughout the country, most of which in Southeastern Bulgaria in the regions of the Eastern Rhodopes, Sakar, Derventa Hills and Strandzha, as well as in the valley of the Struma River in Southwestern Bulgaria. No significant changes in the distribution of the species in the country has been established. The species has not been identified in some squares in Northeastern Bulgaria and in the region of Rila and Pirin, where it was registered before the year 2013, but most likely, this is due to the lack of sufficient observations and is not the result of a reduction in the numbers of the species.

Population size in Special Protection Areas of Natura 2000: 94-211 pairs (44% of the population). The highest numbers have been registered in the Special Protection Areas “Sakar “(13-21 pairs), “Byala Reka” (6-14 pairs), “Western Strandzha” (6-13 pairs), and “Kotlenska Mountain” (6-10 pairs).

Big size map

Breeding distribution 2013 – 2020 – The distribution and the estimation of the population size of the species for the period 2013 – 2020 is presented –

Comparative distribution of the species compared to the first breeding birds atlas (Iankov, 2007): Breeding locality until 2007 | Breeding locality until 2007, confirmed after 2015 – | New breeding locality after 2015. – The breeding localities after 2015 are identified on a base of raw data from


Breeds in broad–leaved deciduous forests, coniferous forests, mixed forests, riverine and swamp forests and brush, rarely in artificial conifer plantations.

Trends in population changes for the period 2013-2020

Short-term trend of population size:


Long-term trend of population size:

slightly increasing

Short-term trend of distribution:


Long-term trend of distribution:



Deforestation, disturbance from forestry activities, destruction of the habitat of the reptiles it feeds on, electric shocks.

Volen Arkumarev