The Mountain Serpent Eagle is a bird of prey that is found in northern Borneo, Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan. It inhabits submontane and montane evergreen rainforests. It prefers forests with height of 1,000-2,900 meters above sea level. It also prefers to be separated vertically away from Spilornis cheela by a few hundred meters whenever the two share the same area.
Spilornis kinabaluensis is threatened by habitat loss. However, they occur within the Kinabalu National Park and the Mulu National Park. Their high-altitude habitats are usually too remote for logging and agriculture, making some of its range secure.