' Birds of Prey - How Many Can You Identify?

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Birds of Prey - How Many Can You Identify?
By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira

October 4, 2011

Our articles on wildlife often highlight the importance of conservation. We need to embrace conservation in right earnest because several bird species are under threat due to chemical pollution, poaching & widespread habitat loss. This article helps nature lovers identify and protect birds of prey right in their own back yard and also helps students distinguish between individual birds and their personalities. It is our understanding that a keen eye can spot many of these birds in one’s own back yard, or in a small wooded area.

Please note that all the bird pictures have their respective names, except the last five. Kindly try to identify the same. (SLIDE –A,B,C,D,E)

There are hundreds of species of birds of prey all distinctive in their look and ability. These Birds are so important to our wellbeing. They play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature. Often, we fail to realize how significant their presence is to us and to our green planet. Birds of prey have beautiful wings and include hawks, vultures, osprey, eagles, harriers and falcons. Incidentally, hawks are also referred to as raptors, a Latin word meaning “Plunderer”.

Birds of prey are extraordinary hunters with outstanding qualities like incredible eyesight, flexibility, sudden change in wing speed and keen senses. Irrespective of their sizes, these birds swoop down on their prey, striking it with sharp clawed talons and eventually killing it. The birds have evolved a set of unique adaptations over thousands of years that enable them to bring down prey with accuracy. Primarily these meat eaters possess hooked beaks adapted for tearing apart food, & dominant feet with sharp, curved claws for killing prey. Most of these birds are widely distributed and only a few species are restricted to certain regions.

Birds of prey are commonly defined as birds that hunt their prey in order to survive (The only exception is the vulture which consumes dead prey), unlike man who hunts them for pleasure or for sport. Birds of prey are highly intelligent; examples of brilliance in birds continue to flow from wildlife experts worldwide.

Birds of prey have been important power symbols in ancient dynasties and civilizations. These birds were used as deities, signifying magical powers and aristocracy. Some Countries worshipped these birds, especially the eagles for their phenomenal strength and power. Falcons were closely associated with the Egyptian culture and were worshipped in their temples and buried in their tombs. Coins dating back to the fourth century BC show Alexander the great with a falcon on his fist.


Falcons are the most common birds associated with falconry. In all probability falconry originated in China .Records prove that during the Genghis Khan era, eagles were used to chase and capture wolves. In Japan, emperors and shoguns engaged in the art of falconry on horseback. Believe it or not, falconry became so popular during the 13th and 14th Century that nuns carried birds of prey to chapels and a 14th century French husband advised his wife to take her Hawk, with her everywhere, even to church.

Falconry was a status symbol during the 16th Century and was practiced by both common men and Kings. The species and type of bird used reflected social status. Eagles were reserved for Emperors, Gyr falcons were used by the kings (Largest of the falcons, 22 inch in length). Peregrine falcons were valued by royalty and used for hunting by Princes, Earls, Dukes and Barons.

Last on the social order were Knaves-persons of humble birth who flew the common kestrel, a small falcon 13 inches long.


Hawks include birds like vultures, osprey, harriers, kites –southern hawks, accipiter and buteo hawks, eagles and falcons.


Hawks are diurnal in nature, -Active during daylight

Worldwide distribution accounting for approximately 280 species,

The smallest hawk is the 3 to 8 ounce sharp shinned hawk to the 20 pound harpy eagle of South America.


Both male and female birds differ in size, with females much larger than males.

Raptors are gifted with strong, powerful legs , toe muscles and sharp talons, a hooked beak used to tear prey, keen eye sight and excellent flying ability. The length and size of the bird’s toes, and the curvature and thickness of its talons are associated with the type of prey it pursues.

Raptors are supposed to have the keenest eyesight in nature because of the size of the eyeball and the eye muscles designed for quick focus.

Females are more aggressive hunters than males.

Many game hunters use hawks for falconry because of their superior strength and shrewd hunting ability.


Hawks and owls prey on animals smaller in size. Frogs, rodents, insects, fish, birds, reptiles, mammals, fish


Hawks and owls disgorge undigested parts of their prey in the form of a pellet. It consists of fur, feathers, bones and other parts. A close examination of the pellet provides vital clues on the birds food habit.


The use of DDT as insecticide was discovered in 1939. It was also discovered to be highly toxic to fish. Birds, like the bald eagle, ingest DDT after eating contaminated fish. The DDT makes the eggshells brittle and thin. Eggs often are broken in the nest when the parents sit on them during incubation. This was one of the reasons populations declined to dangerous levels. DDT was banned in the United States in 1973, although it is still used in other parts of the world. Birds that migrate to other continents are still at risk. (Primary source: University of Oxford, Department of Chemistry.)


Birds of prey are extremely important as natural agents of pest control. They eliminate the need for chemical control of pests and diseases. Evolution has maintained a perfect balance between predator and prey populations over thousands of years. On the other hand, it is man who has upset the balance of nature. We also need to realize that increased protection and more effective management of India’s wetland habitats is the key in securing a better future for birds of prey.

The local Government bodies as well as respective State governments should recognize the outstanding efforts of local groups, students, and Teachers across the Country, who are devoting precious time and money towards bird conservation. They are working closely at the grassroots level to protect and preserve the various bird species for future generations. Recognition by way of presenting environmental excellence awards at the State & National level will go a long way in stimulating the interest of all concerned with respect to bird conservation.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We wish to acknowledge and specially thank Mr. Ashley Rasquinha M.S. (U.S.A), (DIRECTOR-TECHNICAL, ELECTROPNEUMATICS & HYDRAULICS (I) PVT. LTD. Pune.) For photographing the birds of prey in. Ashley is a friend of nature and devotes his spare time for the conservation of wild life.



Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira - Archives

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Comments on this article
Rymon, Kolkata Thursday, February 26, 2015
India doesn't have any Falcon ?
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HenryRebello, mudigere.chickmanlurhenrySunday, November 20, 2011
Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira . nice photos. I inspired to take Photographs of some birds there are so many Peacocks at my estate
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Richard/Lyra Pinto, Sakleshpur/MangaloreSunday, October 09, 2011
Dear Dr.Anand and Geetha,
Excellent photographs.Enjoyed going through them. These pictures reminded us of our son's collection of various birds pictures which he has still treasured. We really admire your efforts in bringing out such articles and making us aware of the beautiful creatures in our environment which go unnoticed. It'a high time people develop a sensitivity towards these birds of nature.
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vivek colaco, field view estate sakleshpurSunday, October 09, 2011
Thank you for your very nice article on birds the photos where very nice.
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Arem, PutturSaturday, October 08, 2011
Thanks a lot for enlightening on birds of prey especially with beautiful pictures. This enables us to identify them in our surroundings whenever found.
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E.P. Eric D'Cunha, Kanha, M.P.Saturday, October 08, 2011
Dear Dr.Anand and Mrs.Geeta,
Thank you for your prompt reply on the my identificaion.Very few people from Mangalore have shown interest in birds though the surroundings provide ample opportunities of learning.Someone needs to make an effort to introduce birding in schools and also through nature clubs so that the younger generation gets introduced to nature and they begin to understand and appreciate the biodiversity around them. This is how they learn to protect the environment.Birding is not an expensive hobby and does not require heavy investments.All our youngsters need is inspired guidance, some orientation and a few field trips till they are hooked to this hobby.

Sadly Mangalore is fast loosing its green cover and many birds that were pretty common about a couple of decades ago have become rare because of habitat loss. I remember seeing the Indian Pitta and the Pardise Flycatcher in our backyard when I was a student. We had plenty of Mango trees, jackfruit trees and a few other native fruiting trees that created an interesting habitat for resident and migratory birds. I remenber even seeing Red Spur-Fowl then.

This just shows how growing human population and ever increasing demand for housing alters the habitat in a matter of just few years.Very very depressing scenario indeed!
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GANESH FARMLAND, CHIKMAGALURThursday, October 06, 2011
Thank you for such a wonderful article and excellent photos
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Dr.Anand and Geeta N Pereira, Sakleshpur/MangaloreThursday, October 06, 2011
Dear Friends of nature,
Thank you for taking time out and writing the comments. They are all very constructive. Your continued support is vital in safeguarding nature’s precious resources.
Mr. E.P. Eric D’cunha has correctly identified the bird slides. Thank you very much.
SLIDE-A . Shikra
SLIDE-B. Bonelli’s Eagle
SLIDE-C. Collared Scops Owl
SLIDE-D. Jungle Owlet
SLIDE-E. Spotted Owlet.
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geraldine fernandes, MangaloreThursday, October 06, 2011
Great work anand and geeta...you do come up with such visual treats and new information for us...congratulations and keep them coming.
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Tauseef, MangaloreThursday, October 06, 2011
Having stayed in Kudremukh for almost 18 years I have been really lucky to be living amongst mother nature.Always been fascinated by these kind of mystifying beautiful creatures.Sadly I had to leave that place and get settled in Mangalore but today tou both brought all my beautiful memories alive...Thanks alot sir and madam...Keep up the good work...
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saifulla.H.S., GERUKATTE,ABU DHABIThursday, October 06, 2011
You have contributed one of the best article and amazing photos to the daijiworld Readers.these all photos are very pleasantable.keep it up.PLEASE CONTINUE THE such habits.best of luck.
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ad, mangloorWednesday, October 05, 2011
Valuable article and indeed magnificent shots of one of the bird species. Wetlands are the most vaulable spaces for the bird habitats and again wetlands are the determinents of our health of our eco system. Modern day developments is a massive destruction of our nature. But who will listen in this madness of greed. Do we need this greed?

Speaking about birds I have come across the "CROWS" we consider a nuisence are the most intelligent birds and most intelligent in recognition. Basically they live with humans and understand and recognise them.
Can you please do a write up of these magnificent black feathered creatures? Thank you Drs. Pereira for this wonderful write ups.
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Dr.Anand and Geeta N Pereira, Sakleshpur/MangaloreWednesday, October 05, 2011

Dear Eric D’Cunha,
Thank you for identifying the respective slides. Your comments are note worthy and highly appreciated. You are right Bird species are invaluable indicators in denoting the health of the ecosystem. In recent years, the extinction rate of birds has accelerated due to many manmade factors. We need an aggressive approach when it comes to conservation. In our opinion wetland ecosystems, which act as refueling stops for resident and migratory birds need to be protected at any cost.

Due to shrinking wetland habitat and converting most of the lakes in towns and cities into bus stands and urban infrastructure is denying many birds their nesting sites and aquatic habitat.Something needs to be done quickly. Kindly share your valuable thoughts and insights.

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Goldwin Fernandes, MangaloreWednesday, October 05, 2011
Your article was very informative and the vivid pictures help visualize these birds as they would have been in their natural habitats. It was an enlightening, informative and enjoyable article. Awaiting the next one.
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Ashley Rasquinha, Chakan PuneWednesday, October 05, 2011
Dear Eric D'Cunha,
Thank so much you for your comments. You are right on all counts on the identification of the slides. Slide B is a "Bonelli's Eagle". I believe that it is an adult & you will find another picture(flying shot) in this very article. I have photographed it in the outskirts of Pune in a place called Chakan. It was in the month of June this year. You are absolutely right about the juveniles & sub-adults & identification becomes very difficult at times.
Warm Regards,
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mervin pereira, mangalore,valencia,LondonWednesday, October 05, 2011
Dear Anand n Geeta thankyou for such a wonderful article n excellent pictures.
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vbaretto, Bantwal-BangaloreWednesday, October 05, 2011
Beautiful photographs. Congrats to Anand and Geetha for the wonderful article on birds
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Donald Roche, Mangalore/BangaloreTuesday, October 04, 2011
Dr. Anand & Geeta, Thank you for giving superb photographs and details of Birds of prey to the readers. Beautiful birds of the nature. I thank @ E. P. Eric D'cunha for identifying the birds. He is having enough experience in this field.Dear Dr. Anand ,if you provide him the details of the slide B he will do the needful to you and the readers by identifying the bird.
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vijayaraj, BangloreTuesday, October 04, 2011
very nice article sir .so much of reserch . hats off to your work . we are all so inspired by you .we have really learnt so much from you . thank you so much sir . god bless you and your family . our prayers are always with you .
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Joe Britto, Nakre/BangaloreTuesday, October 04, 2011
Truly yet another great article by Dr Anand & Geetha Pereira.Indeed the birds of prey are man's friends and nature best way of keeping it's balance. It is still shocking that despite Rachel Carsen's ' Silent Spring' which in the 1960's was highligted the damaging aspects of insecticides & pesticides and in particular DDT which damages the nervous system of birds and animals , India still produces the chemical. Carsen’s work led to the ban on DDT and it's appropriate to quote e words of by Al Gore "It may be that the human species…or at least countless human lives, will be saved because of the words she wrote."
The Coffee Plantations actually indirectly protect the Forests and Shade grown Coffee in particular is in danger of being replaced by Sun loving Coffee which does not need shade. The loss of shade grown Coffee means less greenery and less birds as well. It's time that the Government and concerned departments sincerely protect Coffee Plantations and the Forests. The damage to the environment due to rampant mining and other human activities is already severe and if it is not curtailed, the future generations are unlikely to see the several beautiful species of birds which have been highlighted by Dr Anand & Geetha Pereira in this and also earlier articles.

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Alfred D'souza, Bendoor / DubaiTuesday, October 04, 2011
Dr. Anand and Geeta Pereira should be honoured. Daijiworld can take the initiative to do the honours.
Excellent contribution to the environment by educating people as to the treasures we possess - but sadly we are indifferent to the world created by the Almighty. When we realize we have to live together with our resources - we will fulfil the laws of nature and keep this world full of promises for our children.
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Very nice article and nice photos.
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SUNIL BAPTIST, CHIKMAGALURTuesday, October 04, 2011
Thank you for such a wonderful article and excellent photoS ..
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varun rinaldo, CHIKMAGALURTuesday, October 04, 2011
Very nice article and nice photos.
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varsha, chikmagalurTuesday, October 04, 2011
nice photos.
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zita Olivera, Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Mrs Zita Olivera ...Wonderfull pictures.nice one
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E. P. Eric D'Cunha, Madhya PradeshTuesday, October 04, 2011
Quite a nice article on Birds of Prey. Very few people in India actually understand the significance of birds in our ecosystems, leave alone identifying raptors.Birds are an essential tool that indicates the health of our immediate surroundings.We have lost quite a number of birds in the last hundred years and many are still on the verge of extinction.

The Birds of Prey have confusing plumage when they are juvenile and this can sometimes pose a problem in identifying in the field. Even seasoned ornithologists face this problem when it comes to identifying juvenile or sub-adult birds and at times we need to be guided by the habitat and the season to arrive at a conclusive identification.

I would appreciate if you could kindly mail me the details of the Eagle shown in slide B. Where was this picture taken and when?
Rest of the pics according to me are:

A. Shikra ( Accipiter badius )
B.? not an adult bird?
C. Collared Scops Owl (Otus scops)
D. Jungle Owlet ( Glaucidium radiatum)
E. Spotted Owlet (Athene brama )

The pictures are really nice and pretty sharp too.Keep up the good work!

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PAYAL PEREIRA, MANGALORETuesday, October 04, 2011
Dear Uncle Ashley,
Enjoyed viewing the awesome pictures.
Dad and you make a great team. I am sure wildlife conservation will greatly benefit from this work.
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hi, MANGALORETuesday, October 04, 2011
Dear Uncle Ashley,
Enjoyed viewing the awesome pictures.
Dad and you make a great team. I am sure wildlife conservation will greatly benefit from this work.
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Leona Pais, AustraliaTuesday, October 04, 2011
Dear Dr Anand uncle and geetha congradulation on your new presentation about bird its fantastic and the bird pics are good thankyou
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Liza Pais, AustraliaTuesday, October 04, 2011
Dear Dr Anand uncle and geetha aunty it is a very nice presentation and i loved the fact of all the birds you have exhibited thankyou
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Leander Pais, AustraliaTuesday, October 04, 2011
Dear Dr Anand.I really appreciate that Mr. Ashley Rasquinha M.S. (U.S.A)gave u the pics and you made such a good presentation on Birds of Prey - How Many Can You Identify? it is excellent and i dint know that there were so many kinds owls and eagles and many types of kites thankyou for showing such a wonderful presentation on birds
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Allen Pais, AustraliaTuesday, October 04, 2011
Dr Anand,Excellent Photogrphy,Congratulation to Mr. Ashley Rasquinha M.S. (U.S.A), (DIRECTOR-TECHNICAL, ELECTROPNEUMATICS & HYDRAULICS (I) PVT. LTD. Pune.) For photographing the birds .
Appreciate Ashley dedicating his spare time for the conservation of wild life.Regards-Allen Pais (Brisbane)
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Ronald Gomes, Kadri, MangaloreTuesday, October 04, 2011
Awesome……superb……amazing………Thank you for such a wonderful article and excellent photos.
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Naveen Frank, Mangalore / SharjahTuesday, October 04, 2011

Dear Anand and Geetha,
A splendid down- to- earth article, blended with superb pictures, which even an amateur like me who scraped through Zoology in college, could understand.
Now I am aware that the world is not just a large aviary of Mangalore crows, eagles, and sparrows. but an also beautiful and magnificent species of birds. Keep up the good work. Hope to seeing many more informative articles from both of you.

Naveen Frank


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Jossy Moras, Mangalore (Bangalore)Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Very nice article and nice photos.
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SHETTIGAR, UAE/UDUPITuesday, October 04, 2011
Respected Sir/Madam,
I really appreciate your hard work behind this job. I am Mr. Shettigar from Udupi currently working in Dubai. I have a keen interest in wildlife and hence i'm really enjoying viewing these photos posted on Daijiworld.
Thank you very much for these wonderful photos.
Wish u both good luck:)
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NIHAL, MANGALORETuesday, October 04, 2011
nics pics dad.The clarity of the pictures are very good.I wish you could send more pictures.
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Jaimini P.B., Manipal,SharjahTuesday, October 04, 2011
THANK YOU..THANK YOU..wonderful photos. I am going to share this in fb.
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Donald Pereira, Belthangady/MangaloreTuesday, October 04, 2011
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Kiran Pinto, M'lore/SharjahTuesday, October 04, 2011
Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira .. nice article and nice photos...thank you
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