View Full Version : Unusual Feeding Behaviour of a Grey Headed Fish Eagle

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 03:49 PM
This picture was taken at Kabini – Orange County. Orange County is located 94 kilometers from Mysore in Karnataka in South India. It is spread between Kodagu district and Mysore district. Located to the north-west of Bandipur National Park, Kabini reservoir separates the two. The park has rich forest cover, small streams, valleys, and waterfalls.

Grey Headed Fish Eagle (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus) is a forest Raptor.
We were on a motor boat. I requested the engine to be switched off as I had observed a Grey Headed Fish Eagle, circling around, over our boat. Then in a lightning speed, it landed itself safe onto the grass. The observation that I made along with my family made me wonder about this peculiar behavior. The Eagle started to walk towards the bank of the river and this is what I have tried to show in these pictures. The eagle then got into the water, still close to the shore. It put out its strong legs and locked its prey onto its talons. It came out with a fish in its clasped talons. It dragged its prey to the land. Within seconds it dislodged the head of the fish from the body.
Generally Grey Headed Fish Eagles like the other fish eagle catch’s its prey in flight . As it flies over the water body.

Author & content provider
Vikas Madhav
Class 7 ( now he is doing his 9th grade )
Sishya School

Equipment – Details
Canon 500D Ti1 EOS series;
Shutter Speed 1/1579 Sec;
Lens Aperture F/4 ; Focal Length 300mm;
f- Number F/4;
Exposure Time 1/1600 Sec;
ISO Speed ISO - 200; Metering Mode - Pattern;
Exposure Program ;
Date 4/22/2010;
Time 8.17am

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 03:54 PM
Vikas had set the camera in action mode ( sports mode) and he captured the entire sequence , which is - the Grey Headed Fish Eagle landing on the grass and walking right up to the water and fishing out the Tilapia. If the Forum wishes to see those pictures I can upload them with pleasure

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 05:19 PM
Sequential pictures of the Grey Headed Fish Eagle

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 05:23 PM
Soon as it landed on the grass

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 06:16 PM
Walking towards the water body . In the filed it looked like the bird was marching

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 06:20 PM
Just entered the water. I wished at that point I knew what was happening down below

vikas madhav

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 06:23 PM
This was like the bird bowing down for the applause after a stage performance

vikas madhav

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 06:29 PM
The fish is locked in its talons

vikas madhav

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 06:33 PM
Head dislodged , from the fishes body

Sriya Prasanna
30-01-2013, 06:36 PM
This was what that remained of the fish . Neat table manners .Clean plates.

Mrudul Godbole
31-01-2013, 01:44 PM
Wow very unusual behavior of the Grey Headed Fish Eagle documented. Madhav, you have captured the entire sequence nicely. Maybe it might have observed the fish from above. Was the fish still alive when it caught it? Thanks for sharing this natural history moment. Look forward to more.

Sriya Prasanna
03-02-2013, 04:40 PM
I am not too sure , when I saw the fish in its talon , it did not move.

As for the "Bird saw the fish" - I too thought about this , because the Eagle was soaring for sometime before it landed.

My thought was wont the fish swim away?

Then the reason I thought it could have caught the fish was - the fish might have come to shallow water and the eagle caught it.

Hope this reasoning is possible. I am not sure

vikas madhav

Roopak Gangadharan
05-02-2013, 10:47 PM
Nice set of images vikas. you have documented the scene well here. I too feel Mrudul is right. If the fish was alive it will struggle a little when grabbed and dragged out by the bird. It is not uncommon for birds of prey to feed on an already dead animal, Ive seen it many times with different kinds of raptors.


Kaustuv Chatterjee
03-11-2014, 08:14 AM
Acute observation and an interesting story...thanks for sharing, gives us a glimpse into their behaviour which is out of the ordinary