Two Kites and a Buzzard! Raptors of Manipal – Part 1

Black Kite
A Black Kite - One of the prime scavengers in Manipal

As a kid growing up, nothing fascinated me as much as those long-winged birds that soared in the sky. On a cold and sunny winter afternoon in Delhi, to see massive flocks of Black Kites scanning the city for any thing that could be eaten is a fantastic sight. Throughout history, in fact, few creatures have caught the imagination of mankind in the same way that eagles, falcons, and hawks do. Here in Manipal, we are lucky to host a nice array of raptors; from the world’s fastest bird – the Peregrine Falcon, to the sly forest hunter – the Crested Goshawk.

Raptors is a term birdwatchers generally use as a substitute for “birds of prey” and for most of them, it has nothing to do with that ferocious dinosaur species – the velociraptor 🙂 Ask any birdwatcher, and he/she will tell you that a birding trip is incomplete without a raptor sighting!

Apart from looking beautiful and striking, raptors are also an important sign of how “healthy” the ecology of a certain place is. A large number of birds of prey indicates that their must be a good prey base and the overall signs look good. Alas! Manipal has seen a recent decline in the number of raptors seen regularly, and the passage of time isn’t improving the situation. Nonetheless, you can still see enough if you kep your eyes open and experience the rush of seeing a bird as it takes down another animal using speed, power, precision, and extreme agility. This post is about the raptors that you can see in Manipal 🙂

1. Black Kite

A scavenger, and a bird found all over India (and for that matter, all over the Old World). It is commonly seen all throughout the day in Manipal and the one bird that every human on this soil recalls as a hawk or eagle (sigh). The easiest way of telling it is by looking at its typical forked tail (though the image I have posted here might not be the best to showcase that feature)

Oriental Honey Buzzard
An Oriental Honey Buzzard - known for its uncanny diet that consists mostly of honey.

2. Brahminy Kite

Another common bird in Manipal, this is a magnificent looking bird. A scavenger as such, but it is often seen hunting for fish et al over water bodies. Interestingly it is one of the first birds to leave a water body if it is contaminated by harmful chemicals, and thus is an excellent ecological indicator of water pollution. You cannot miss or misidentify that beautiful white headed-chestnut bodied bird!

Brahminy Kite
A Brahminy Kite in all its splendour.



3. Oriental Honey Buzzard

A funny looking bird, which has a typical pigeon like head and massive, rounded wings that is famous for it’s uncanny diet – honey! Although it hunts very rarely, you can often see it soaring on sunny afternoons. It has a head that exposes no flesh to help it protect from bees and slit like nostrils so that none of the angry residents of the honeycombs it raids enter its body. You can see these features in this photo really well:




For those of you, who are interested in taking a glimpse or two and trying your skill at taking pictures of these awesome birds, the Manipal Big Bird Day is almost here! Celebrate the rich diversity of Manipal on 22nd January 2012 by joining us as we visit 4 different habitats over one day in an attempt to see as many bird species as possible, all within Manipal!

For more details:

Register here:

FB Event page:


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