Lesser fish eagle
Near Threatened (IUCN 3.1)
(Müller,S & Schlegel, 1841)
The lesser fish eagle (Ichthyophaga humilis) is a species of Ichthyophaga found in the Indian subcontinent, primarily in the foothills of the Himalayas, and south-east Asia. There have been some stray reports from Gujarat and Central India and in more recent times from the Kaveri river valley in southern India. The distribution in southern India is not yet confirmed.
Lesser fish eagles are fish-eating birds that have feet adapted to aid in gripping slippery fish. They have strongly curved talons, and spicules along the underside of the birds’ toes help to grip fish as they pull them from the water.
There are two subspecies: Ichthyophaga humilis humilis, which is native to the Malaysian Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and Sulawesi; and Ichthyophaga humilis plumbea, which is native to Kashmir through southeast India, Nepal, and Burma towards Indochina.
2 Diet and feeding habits
Lesser fish eagle on the banks of river Kaveri, India
The lesser fish eagle is a medium-sized bird of prey that is primarily gray-brown in colour with broad, blunt wings and coarse featherless legs. They are smaller than the similar Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus (gray-headed fish eagle) and may often get confused with the similar species. The lesser fish eagle has a brown breast with white thighs and belly. They have a short, rounded tail with a long neck and a small head. Juvenile lesser fish eagles are similar in appearance to adults, although they have brown eyes whereas an adult has yellow. Adults have a wingspan reaching 1.2 m and can grow to up to 64 centimeters tall.
Diet and feeding habits
The lesser fish eagle feeds primarily on fish, which it snatches from the water as it observes them from above on a perch, which may be an overhanging tree or rock in the middle of a stream. They have several personal perches that they often switch between throughout their feeding time. As their diet is primarily fish, lesser fish eagles have large, curved talons specialized for catching fish and taking t