Experiencing jungles during monsoon is truly magical, and that too witnessing a raptor in rain is a surreal experience.
More about this bird and the experience, read on..
Having spent over an hour in the afternoon safari drive, the day was proving to be bad in terms of sighting. Rains in this season are pretty unpredictable and carrying expensive equipment in an open jeep jungle safari drive can prove to be a costly mistake, nevertheless now that we were half way through I had packed my camera gear safely under a rain poncho.
Suddenly, we saw something perched at eye level. Getting closer revealed this to be the majestic ‘Crested Hawk Eagle’. What you see here is a low light shot of this beauty.
Crested Hawk-eagle is a medium sized bird of prey, about 70 cms and upon research, I understand they have a wingspan around 130 cms. What is prominent apart from the obvious crest is it’s bright yellow eyes. Both males and females look alike, however the female is slightly larger. They are know to feast on a variety of prey – snakes, lizards, small mammals such as mice/squirrels and other birds. On a different occasion, I had the opportunity to observe this hunting behaviour. I will share that experience in another picture blog.
What is peculiar about this bird is, unlike many birds, the Crested hawk eagle does not breed every year. This behaviour coupled with habitat loss is proving to be a major threat to it’s survival. Though there is no scientific evidence of their population decline, that day is not far with the disturbing trend of excessive urbanisation. They have a decent distribution across South Asia.
Sometimes the crested hawk eagle is also referred as ‘Changeable Hawk Eagle’, as some sub-species are known to be dimorphic (occurring in two distinct forms). They are also very similar to Mountain Hawk Eagle, but we birders can differentiate it easily thanks to their long wings which are parallel-sided held flat in flight.
Their call is pretty loud and high pitched, a sample call attached from Xeno-canto.
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