Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus/Aquila pennata))
Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus/Aquila pennata))

Booted eagle _ Dark Morph _ perfect Pic

General

A small,compact, Brahminy Kite sized eagle which appears in 2 morphs , pale and dark morph,both evidently different form one another. This  is a very common Eagle wintering visitor to S.India from Sept to Mar end every year.

In my opinion it is the most cosmopolitan raptor due to its widespread distribution in cities,towns,outskirts,lakes,grassland,forests etc

Identification

Perched individuals appear the size of a Brahminy Kite. Appears brown in colour with the dark morph looking a lot darker.

In flight, its easy to Identify the pale morph which has creamish coverts and black flight feathers and the overall structure appearing kite like but with broad wings. The tail is white for both morphs.

The dark morph is often confused  with Black Kite or even a marsh Harrier unless it is clearly identified by a trained person or an expert birder. Both morphs do have prominent headlights, the most characteristic ID feature of this eagle

In addition to these two morphs I have also seen intermediate morphs (again not easy to ID)

Behavior

I refer to this bird as the most cosmopolitan raptor along with Shikra.

Seen in single or in pairs or maybe even more in the cities. Ive seen as many as 4 Booted eagles in a one frame! usually seen gliding with Black and Brahminy Kites.

Perched birds appear rather stocky and always alert. I have seen a huge flock of ducks being chased away by a booted eagle at Hoskote Lake. Seen such incidents in other locations as well.

Locations Seen

A cosmopolitan raptor indeed, commonly seen in various habitats forests,cities, Lakes,Deserts and highways during migratory season.

Ive mostly seen an observed this raptor (dark and pale) in the cities which Ive found to be really interesting. It is very well distributed in various locations in the heart of cities like Trivandrum, Bangalore.

Booted Eagles show preference to locations near a water body /lake and so a common feature in Lakes like  Akkulam- Trivandrum where I have I have seen it every year next to the lake in good numbers (max 4) and various other locations like Punchakkari,Technopark. (TRV). In Bangalore it is a regular winter visitor to Hoskote Lake, Hulimangala, Hennagara lake & Kaikondarahalli.

In addition, I’ve seen them in Palghat numerous times, Pathanamthitta, Trichur as well etc

But the most interesting and surprise sightings have been right in the heart of Bangalore City area like Maratahalli, Thippasandra,Malleshpalaya , NICE Road , Chinnappanahalli etc in Bangalore.

Spotted them between the BLR – Mumbai highway and BLR- Kerala road trip.

Apart from the cities, Booted can easily be found in forested areas like Ponmudi Hills (TRV), Ragihalli (BLR), Silent Valley (Palghat) in the north  LRK (Gujarat) , Tal Chappar (RJ)

All of the above indicating that it is a highly adaptable raptor.

Distribution

Extremely well distribution from South India to all the way upto Rajasthan

Notable Observation

None

Frequency of Sightings

High. The possibility of sighting this bird in the city,outskirts or forests is very high during migratory season from Sept- mar end.