Raptor birds of Wilpattu National Park - Birds of Wilpattu National Park - Birds of prey in wilpattu National Park

Raptor birds of Wilpattu National Park

When we speak about Wilpattu National Park the fact of bird life in Wilpattu National Park is very vital. Wilpattu National Park is a great place to observe many resident and migratory bird species in Sri Lanka.Birds of all sizes and colors can be witnessed at the par. It would be very handy if you bring along a pair of binoculars with you when you visit the Wilpattu National Park.

Among the birdlife of Wilpattu National Park the raptor birds of Wilpattu national park comes to a major attraction. People love to observe the raptor birds that residing the Wilpattu NP and how they hunt for their prey. Among the raptor birds in Wilpattu NP the White Bellied Sea Eagle, The Crested Serpent Eagle, The Changeable Hawk Eagle, Grey headed fish Eagle are often encountered while doing safari in Wilpattu NP.

1. White Bellied Sea Eagle

January 18, 2023 | by Krishan

One of the most seen raptor bird in Wilpattu NP. Enormous gray and white raptor that soars with wings held in strong V-shape. In flight note black and white underwing pattern, short tail. Juvenile is much browner and can be confused with Wedge-tailed Eagle, but note mostly pale and fairly short tail. Predominantly found along coastlines, as well as estuaries and inland waterways of Wilpattu national park.

The White-bellied sea eagle is a large diurnal bird of prey that breeds and hunts near water, and fish form around half of its diet. This bird has a white head, rump and underparts, and dark or slate-grey back and wings. In flight, the black flight feathers on the wings are easily seen when the bird is viewed from below. The large, hooked bill is a leaden blue-grey with a darker tip, and the eyes are dark brown. The legs and feet are yellow or grey, with long black talons (claws). Like many raptors, the female is slightly larger than the male. Immature birds have brown plumage, which is gradually replaced by white until the age of five or six years.

2. The Crested Serpent Eagle

January 18, 2023 | by Krishan

The next raptor bird of Wilpattu NP is the crested serpent eagle. This medium-large, dark brown eagle is stocky, with rounded wings and a short tail. Its short black and white fan-shaped nuchal crest gives it a thick-necked appearance. The bare facial skin and feet are yellow. The underside is spotted with white and yellowish-brown. When the wing tips perched do not reach until the tail tip. In soaring flight, the broad and paddle-shaped wings are held in a shallow V. The tail and underside of the flight feathers are black with broad white bars. Young birds show a lot of white on the head. The tarsus is unfeather and covered by hexagonal scales. The upper mandible does not have an overhanging festoon to the tip.

The Crested Serpent-Eagle, as its name suggests, is primarily a snake-hunter. It seems to particularly favor tree snakes. But its diet isn't limited to serpents. It will also take lizards, frogs, toads, mammals, eels, small birds, termites and large earthworms. In order to catch its prey, it waits patiently on a perch until something good to eat passes by. Then it will drop down to snatch it from the ground, or pluck it from vegetation.

3. The Changeable Hawk Eagle

January 18, 2023 | by Krishan

The next in line in raptor birds of Wilpattu National Park is the Changeable or Crested Hawk Eagle. Medium-sized eagle with massive rounded wings. Appears very small-headed in flight. Name is slightly misleading, as there are only really two color morphs, pale and black. Pale-morph adult is dark brown above with a white breast overlaid with dark streaks. Juvenile is much paler, with cleaner white underparts and less extensive striping and barring anywhere on the body. Dark morph is dark all over with paler outer wing feathers, and can be mistaken for dark Honey-Buzzards; look out for the hawk-eagle’s much longer wings and more slender profile. Inhabits forests, forest edges, and expansive parks and plantations.

The Changeable Hawk-Eagle lives, hunts, flies over, perches, roosts and nests in a long list of different habitats including dry deciduous and semi-evergreen forests, second-growth logged forest with clearings, and cultivated areas from sea level to around 1,500 meters above sea level. Occasionally, it does spend time in habitats at elevations of around 2,200 m.

Like most eagle species, the Changeable Hawk-Eagle is a skilled hunter and feeds on a long list of different animals. When on the hunt, it usually waiting’s quietly, perched out of sight of unsuspecting prey. It might perch high up in a forest tree, or low along a fence-post, or at some height in between. Either way, when this eagle spots an animal that looks good to eat, it will make a quick, short dive to snatch up its dinner with strong feet and sharp talons.

4. The Grey Headed Fish Eagle

January 18, 2023 | by Krishan

The last but not least seen raptor bird in Wilpattu NP is the Grey Headed Fish Eagle. Fierce-looking brown-and-white fish-eater. Note adult’s contrasting white belly and white tail with a broad black bar across the tip. Juvenile is paler overall, with a streaked brown breast and barred underwings. Smaller Lesser Fish-Eagle has a less contrasting tail pattern and typically a more jagged-edged white belly patch in adults; juveniles average paler below overall.

Gray-headed forages around rivers, lakes, and swamplands. Vocal; often detected by its hoarse yelping screams.Grey headed fish eagle feeds mainly on fish dead or alive but it also catches small birds and mammals. Its hunting style is it perch on a tree and once the prey is detected by sight the eagle takes off rapidly flies over the surface and grabs the fish behind the head with long curved claws.

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