Dinner drama of Changeable Hawk-eagle

HawkEagleCh [ThongChowNgian] 1

“On the late afternoon of 02 Apr 2016, I was observing the juvenile Changeable Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus) at Mt Faber carpark C. It was waiting for its next feed (above).

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“The wait was long, more than 2 hours. While waiting it hopped around branches near its nest and also engaged in comfort behaviour (above).

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“When it sensed its mother nearby, it frenetically gave its high-pitched scream several times. The mother also responded with a similar call a distant away. When the mother bird arrived, it landed on the lower branch below the nest (above). According to a resident from Mt Faber who had observed this feeding routine since its nesting started in Feb 2016, at this stage of the young eagle’s growth development, the mother bird will leave the prey on the lower branch to entice the young eagle to feed on the branch, away from the nest.

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“But instead of leaving the prey on the branch, the mother bird surprisingly took off with the prey which looked like a rodent, most likely a rat (above).

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“The mother bird flew downwards with the prey because it was mobbed by a drongo, probably by a Greater racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus). But the drongo cannot be seen in this photo (above).

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“The juvenile eagle looked helplessly and was screaming away, perhaps wondering if it will ever eat its dinner (above).

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“About a minute later, the mother bird returned, still holding on to the prey but it flew past the juvenile onto a higher branch (above).

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“As the mother bird flew higher, the juvenile bird looked on (above).

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“In this picture, it can be clearly seen that the mother bird was pursued by the smaller sized drone (above). This eagle is known to feed on larger preys such as pheasants and jungle fowls but was fleeing away from the small but daring and highly territorial drongo. At this point, the mother bird had deposited the prey onto a higher branch, slightly below the right-side of nest.

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“When drama had quietened down, the juvenile bird flew to the branch to look for the prey (above).

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“In this picture, the juvenile had landed onto the branch below its nest (above).

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“The mother bird had landed on a branch which was higher than the nest but on the left (above). It perched restlessly there for a short while because the drongo was still mobbing it.

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“The mother bird eventually took-off and flew towards me and above my head, displaying its striped belly and fast flapping wings (above).

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“The juvenile found its prey on the branch that was slightly below its nest and let out several screams (above).

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“The juvenile flew upwards to its nest with the prey. In this picture, we can see its head but its body was hidden by the nest (above). It started feeding on the prey in the nest, contrary to what it was used to.

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“To get a better view of the feeding activity, I walked downhill towards the right and found a spot with a clear view of the nest (above). By this time, the golden glow of the evening light was fast fading away.

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“The juvenile seems like a slow eater, taking a long time to feed on a small prey (above).

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“In this picture, the juvenile was eating the tail of the prey, probably the remains of the less juicy bits of the carcass (above).

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“After 40 minutes of feeding at the nest, the juvenile flew off to a higher branch. This concludes the dramatic dinner and an exciting encounter of the juvenile Changeable Hawk-eagle.”

Thong Chow Ngian
4th April 2016

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