Grey-headed Fish Eagle

28 May 2007   in Feeding-invertebrates 11 Comments »
Contributed by YC, Lee Tiah Khee & Melinda Chan

grey-headed-fish-eagle-ymchan-1.jpg

There are two genera of specialist fish eating eagles – Haliaeetus and Ichthyophaga. They live around aquatic habitats and feed almost exclusively on fish. But this does not mean that they do not take other prey. Sometimes they also feed on birds and small mammals.

The eight species of Haliaeetus are typically coastal and large inland water body species. Ichthyophaga, of which there are two species, both found in Asia, are associated with rivers and streams.

Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus) is a rare resident usually confined to the Central Catchment forest (left). The eagle has a small greyish head on a longish neck. The wings and body are dark brownish grey and the lower belly, thigh and under tail coverts are white, the last with terminal or subterminal black band.

ccc2.jpg

The eagle hunts from a vantage perch by the water. Once it spots a fish, it lunges at it, grabbing it with its talons (above). Generally these eagles catch fish near the surface of the water, normally immersing only the feet and legs. Once the fish is caught, it is brought back to the perch to be eaten (below).

bbb7.jpg

Central montage top left and right and bottom left by Lee Tiah Khee; the rest by Chan Yoke Meng.




Related posts:
  • White-bellied Fish-eagle fishing a rat Have you ever seen a White-bellied Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) fishing...
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle: Fishing The White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) is a great fishing...
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle in action In September 2006 K. C. Tsang sent in a dramatic...
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle: Not just a fishing expert “On May 1st, I was at Tekek Village at Pulau...
  • Aerial display: White-bellied Sea Eagle Birders are always fascinated as well as impressed by the...
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle and the Grey Heron Allan Teo was with his fellow photographers in Changi on...
  • 11 Responses to "Grey-headed Fish Eagle"

    1. Birdie Friends says:

      i almost got hit by a bus trying to snap a pic of this bird along Mandai Lake Road. But I must say it is really beautiful and it was my first time seeing this bird here. A lifer for me this one. Great pics everyone!

    2. budak says:

      the prey fish in the third picture looks like a Geophagus sp. cichlid, which is now common in the reservoirs. Maybe all these introduced fishes are doing ‘a little’ good after all, as native fish species tend to be cryptic rather than open water dwellers.

    3. admin says:

      Thanks for the note, Birdie Friends; and for the fish ID, Budak.

    4. Hai~Ren says:

      Great photos of a rare bird.

      I wonder if they interact with white-bellied sea eagles and Brahminy kites, and if any competition exists between the species.

    5. admin says:

      Well, birders and photographers – take up the challenge and seek the answers to the questions posed.

    6. Birdie boy says:

      Well Hai~Ren I believe the grey headed fish eagles are found in the forested areas along streams/river/reservoirs and not so much in the coastal/mangroves areas where you get brahminys and white bellieds.I say this because i have never seen the grey headed fish eagle before for the past 17 years i was living along Pasir Panjang Rd next to Labrador Park/beach. I have seen many brahminy kites and WBS eagles there. Maybe our field ornithologist, Wang Luang Keng can help solve this pondering question? =)

    7. Serene says:

      White-bellied Sea Eagle is pretty common at MacRitchi, seen it flying around often. & I had seen a Grey-headed Fish Eagle there once too.

    8. Luan Keng says:

      Grey-headed Fish Eagle prefers forests to coastal areas although it has been reported at Sungei Buloh, Poyan and Khatib Bongsu. There could be competition with the similar-sized White-bellied Fish Eagle, which can also be found in our forests fringing the central reservoirs. Sutari reported a pair of GHFE flying in the company of a pair of WBFE in 1994. As far as I know, no studies have been made on whether these two species compete with each other for resources. I have never observed it myself. Lim Kim Seng hypothesised that competition with WBFE is a threat to GHFE but no one has reported any aggression between the two species.

    9. Megan says:

      My pet chicken just got pecked to death by one of these birds! This was horrible because I know that once it finds its home of the prey, they are not leaving until they are all killed. This is horrible because I did have 4 chickens, now I only have 3! If i could, I would do anything I can to get this thing away from my pets. I love them and this was not the way for them to die. And i do not eat them. I have them to eat the bugs away and lay eggs. I love these animals so much and I could not stop crying once I found out! =(

    10. Ding Li says:

      Interesting article. Recalled one incident when i saw a WBSE chasing a Grey-headed at Macritchie. Another time i remember seeing a WBSE trying to kleptoparasitize a GHFE

    11. Cha says:

      Did you know that its not advisable to feed the grey-headed fishing eagle with saltwater fishes? They have the tendency to move and act like a drunken bird.

    Leave a Reply