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Gray-headed Fish-Eagle

Posted by sylvester alphonso on June 6, 2022 at 11:12 am
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A medium sized raptor 69-74cm with grey head neck nape and breast merging with paler brown of the mid belly. Abdomen flanks and tail are white. Upper parts brown darker on the wings turning to blackish on the quill tips. Terminal tail band dark brown, particularly visible in flight. Sexes alike. Juvenile streaked overall, except on belly and vent with white under wings and lightly barred flight feathers and tail.

The Gray-headed Fish-Eagle has a discontinuous distribution in India due to its specialized habitat requirement of comparatively sluggish rivers and streams flowing undisturbed forest. It is the resident of north and northeast Indian plains, the Narmada River system and Western Ghats. A small population is also in the gir forest of Gujarat. It is absent from northwest India to Punjab. It ranges from Uttar Pradesh terai, extending eastwards to the northeast to southern Arunachal Pradesh.

It is found near slow-moving rivers, streams, lakes and tidal lagoons in wooded country, usually in lowlands, can be seen sitting for hours on a tree overlooking a sluggish stream or pool, waiting for an opportunity to snatch fish. It is met single or widely spaced pairs. If not disturbed, it can be seen in the same favorite spot for months. Although it prefers sluggish rivers, it can also fish in rough waters.

It feeds mainly on fish, sometimes very large ones but during breeding season it feeds on birds and mammals. Also it is very territorial and makes a large nest with sticks on a tall tree. Sometimes the same nest is used year after year and thus become bulky due to yearly addition of twigs and sticks. Sometimes two or three nest are built in a territory widely spaced out and may be used in alternate years. The bird becomes noisy during breeding season. It breeds during November to January in north India and even up to April in south India.

2-4 eggs are laid, both parents share incubation duties, female more, incubation period is 28-30 days and nestling period is about 80 days.