Lesser fish eagle

Lesser fish eagle

Conservation status

Near Threatened (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification







I. humilis

Binomial name

Ichthyophaga humilis
(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.[citation needed] 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,[2] and spicules along the underside of the birds’ toes help to grip fish as they pull them from the water.[3]
There are two subspecies: Ichthyophaga humilis humilis, which is native to the Malaysian Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, and Sulawesi;[2] and Ichthyophaga humilis plumbea, which is native to Kashmir through southeast India, Nepal, and Burma towards Indochina.[2]


1 Description
2 Diet and feeding habits
3 Habitat
4 Range
5 Reproduction
6 References


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.[4] They are smaller than the similar Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus (gray-headed fish eagle)[5] and may often get confused with the similar species. The lesser fish eagle has a brown breast with white thighs and belly.[3] They have a short, rounded tail with a long neck and a small head.[5] 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.[3]
Diet and feeding habits[edit]
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.[2] They have several personal perches that they often switch between throughout their feeding time.[3] As their diet is primarily fish, lesser fish eagles have large, curved talons specialized for catching fish and taking t