Of hawks and falcons; Raptors of Manipal – Part 2

A male shikra in a meditative mood.
Peregrine Falcon1
The world's fastest hunter with a pigeon kill.

“The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.”

– Sun Tzu

Thanks for the awesome response to the previous post, part 2 is here and this will be about birds that are perhaps the best hunters in the world, with keen eyes, stealth, and speed being their formula for success.

4. Peregrine Falcon, aka the Shaheen Falcon

Quite possibly one of the most famous birds in the world, and one that is amongst the most cosmopolitan species – being found on all continents but for Antarctica. The subspecies we find in Manipal is the Shaheen Falcon, also known as the peregrinator. Such a mean name! And you’ll know it deserves it when you see one. The fastest bird in the world, it hovers high in the sky looking for prey and then swoops down at the unsuspecting individual at speeds that exceed 320 kph!

30 nostalgic photos of manipal 1997 to 2001
A juvenile Shikra

The fastest birds have been recorded at almost 400 kph, thus making it one of the fastest animals in the world. The Indian subspecies, the Shaheen, is a species of global concern. The best place to see them is in the “valley” behind the MIT hostels, more appropriately known as the Eshwar Nagar woods (or that’s what I call them!)

Read more on wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falco_peregrinus_peregrinator

5. Shikra

The Shikra, a favorite amongst Indian falconers, and a successful hunter of the forest and of the urban landscape, is a charming little raptor. The name is obviously derived from the word “shikari” and this bird is basically a small hawk from a family that is better known as accipiters. Another bird that can figuratively kill with its looks.

Shikra male1
A male shikra in a meditative mood.

It “looks” like a raptor. It’s a smallish grey bird, about the size of a pigeon, with streaks (in case of young birds) and stripes (in case of older birds) running across the chest. Once opposite the fourth block in the MIT Campus, I was photographing a squirrel, which disappeared in 5 seconds as it got picked up by a Shikra that was waiting for its chance.

6. Crested Goshawk

A fantastic raptor, and amongst the “rarer” ones to find in India; this one is cause for celebration every time any birder sees it. Much like a Shikra in structure (Yes, this is also an accipiter), it is however larger in size and a typical silent stealth loving forest hunter. They are unbelievably quiet and adept at surprising their prey using slick maneuvers through dense forest to catch them. A rarity anywhere in this country, I have only seen them thrice in Manipal – once at End Point (which is where the photograph was taken) and twice in the Eshwar Nagar woods. You can also tell them by their fluffy looking feathers under the tail and a short indistinct crest.

Crested Goshawk1
A Crested Goshawk with those keen eyes looking for its next target.




That is it for part 2 🙂 Coming up next, we’ll take a look at a few big eagles and the likes which infuse terror into the creatures of Manipal.








You can also cherish the beauty of these magnificent hunters by joining me on one of my birdwatching trips. A good start would be the upcoming Manipal Big Bird Day (on the 22nd of January, i.e., this Sunday), which is when we’ll gather to celebrate the diverse avifauna of our blessed region. For more information on that visit: http://tumblr.com/Zjk-mxEu7L6G



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