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November 2013

Name: Changeable Hawk Eagle
Nisaetuscirrhatus

Introduction - A majestic species of bird of prey belonging to the family, Accipitridae, the Changeable Hawk Eagle is also known as the Crested Hawk Eagle.

Size - The Changeable Hawk Eagle happens to be a medium to large raptor that measures approximately 60-72 centimetres in length.

Distribution : Most jungles and wooded areas in India serve as the habitat of the Changeable Hawk Eagle. However, they are a rare sight in the city environment.

Nesting - The nesting season for the Changeable Hawk Eagle begins in the month of December and continues till April. The nest of the bird, which is usually spotted high up among the trees, takes the shape of a large platform, constructed from sticks, that remains lined with soft, green leaves. The female Changeable Hawk Eagle lays a single, greyish white egg with an unmarked surface. However, it may contain faint, light reddish blotches and specks at the broad end.

 

Hunting Pattern – The Changeable Hawk Eagle maintains a sharp lookout as its perches upright on the branch of a tall tree near some clearing in the forest. The bird of prey waits patiently for hares, pheasants, jungle fowl etc., to come out into the open area. As soon as it locates its prey, the Changeable Hawk Eagle swoops down with full force and bears its prey away in its huge talons.

Prey Base – The diet of the Changeable Hawk Eagle consists of small birds, reptiles and mammals.

While we are on the topic of the Changeable Hawk Eagle, I cannot help but share a rather funny incident with you. On one of our trips, we had encountered a carcass of a deer that had, no doubt, been killed and consumed in its entirety by a pack of wild dogs. All that remained of the deer were the scraps of flesh stuck to the bones of the animal. We noticed a Changeable Hawk Eagle sitting closeby, holding a large piece of meat in its strong feet, which had possibly come from the dead deer. The bird had apparently eaten to its heart’s content and its belly seemed full. Our doubts were confirmed when the Changeable Hawk Eagle was unable to fly away despite we moving closer to it. It was so full that not only did its attempts to fly away prove futile, but it also fell off trying to do so. Finally, it made its getaway by literally crawling away to disappear into the grass on the floor. The incident brings a smile to our faces every time we imagine the large bird crawling away into the forest.

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