Calls of the Grey-headed Fish Eagle

posted in: Raptors, Vocalisation | 1

The Grey-headed Fish Eagle’s (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus) global status is “near threatened”. Wells (1999) estimates that there may be about 40 pairs in the Thai-Malay Peninsula.

“They can be differentiated from the Lesser Fish Eagle (Ichthyophaga humilis) by the broad black terminal tail band. They are given much to just sitting in a tree, but this could be due to observe presence,” reported Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS. According to Chasen (1939), “it can be seen sitting in a tree over water more often than on the wing”.

On 6th November 2010 Amar encountered a pair or Grey-headed Fish Eagles at the outskirts of the Ipoh City in the state of Perak in Malaysia. With lots of ex-mining pools around, fish is plentiful to keep these raptors happy.

Amar has made a number of audio recordings of their fascinating calls. Most calls are often made in an hour of observation (8.15-9.15 am). Attached are two calls… the loud piercing ‘tiu-weeu’ calls HERE (an audio recording exclusively) was often answered by deep ‘moaning’ calls by the partner HERE (mixed calls). Most of the recordings also have other birds in the back ground audio.

Ferguson-Lees & Christie (2001) describes calls as ‘laughing screams’. Wells (1999) describes the advertising call while soaring as a rich ‘kroi-ork’. According to Robson (2008), during courtship display a powerful barking ‘kroi-ork’ is uttered and repeated loud eerie ‘tiu-weeeu’.

Chasen, F. N. (1939). The birds of the Malay Peninsular. Vol. IV: The birds of the low-country jungle and scrub. H.F. & G. Whiterby, London.
2. Ferguson-Lees, J. & D. A. Christie, 2001. Raptors of the world. London: Christopher Helm.
3. Robson, C., 2008. A field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. New Hollad, London.
Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London.

  1. Subaraj

    Sorry Dato. I have only just listened to your recording of the fish eagle’s calls. Unfortunately, the first recording sounds like a Stork-billed Kingfisher (Tieu-tieu). This is the kingfisher’s typical descending call.

    The 2nd recording is certainly the Grey-headed Fish Eagle with the load “woak woak” followed by the moanful, descending “oahhh oahhh”.

    We have several pairs in Singapore and the eagle’s calls are very familiar to us. Even during the breeding season, we have never heard a call that sounds like the Stork-billed Kingfisher.



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