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Lesser Fish Eagle
Ichthyophaga humilis

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Himalayan Gray-headed Fishing Eagle, Himalayan Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, Ichthyophaga nana, Lesser Fishing Eagle, Lesser Fishing-eagle.

Ichthyophaga humilis
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Distribution: Indomalayan. INDIA, KASHMIR, and NEPAL east to southern CHINA and Southeast Asia south through the Malay Peninsula, SUMATRA, BORNEO, SULAWESI, and southern MOLUCCAS (Buru). more....

Subspecies: 2 races. I. h. humilis: Malay Peninsula and SUMATRA through BORNEO to SULAWESI and southern MOLUCCAS (Buru Is.); I. h. plumbea: KASHMIR southeast through INDIA and NEPAL to BURMA, northern INDOCHINA, and HAINAN.

Taxonomy: Formerly called I. nana (Brown and Amadon 1968), but see Mees (1967). This genus is closely related to the sea eagles, Haliaeetus, and clusters with the southern species of that genus (Lerner and Mindell 2005).

Movements: Partial migrant and altitudinal migrant (Bildstein 2006).

Habitat and Habits: Inhabits the vicinity of large forested rivers, lakes, and wetlands, mainly in areas below 1,000 m. With some overlap, the Grey-headed Fish Eagle inhabits standing and sluggish wetlands, with the Lesser Fish Eagle occurring more along hill rivers (Fuchs et al. 2007). This species regularly perches on exposed dead trees near rivers, or on perches under canopy over shaded water. Occasionally soars and occurs singly and in pairs (Coates and Bishop 1997). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on fish, which it snatches from water by pouncing from a perch, typically under overhanging branches of a large tree, or sometimes a mid-stream rock (Coates and Bishop 1997, Wells 1999). Both species of Ichthyophaga have strongly recurved talons like those of the Osprey, a specialization for capturing fish (Poole 1989), but one which is lacking in Haliaeetus.

Conservation: Apparently rare throughout its range, particularly on the Indian subcontinent, due mainly to loss of forest habitat along rivers, siltation, overfishing, increasing human disturbance of waterways, and direct persecution (shooting and nest robbery) (Round 1988, Clark 1994, Fuchs et al. 2007). This genus is closely related to Haliaeetus, which includes several species that have shown a marked vulnerability to DDE-induced eggshell thinning, so this possible factor should be considered by conservation groups seeking to conserve this species (see Naoroji 1995, 1997). Categorized globally as Near Threatened by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimated the global population at the start of the breeding season at 1,000 to 10,000 individuals, but emphasized that the population is unlikely to exceed four figures. BirdLife International (2009) estimated the total population at 10,000 mature birds, but noted that the supporting data are poor.

Important References: 
BirdLife International. 2000. Threatened birds of the world. Lynx Edicions
  and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Clark, W.S. 1994. Lesser Fishing-eagle. P. 123 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, London.
Wells, D.R. 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, covering Burma
  and Thailand south of the eleventh parallel, Peninsular Malaysia and
  Singapore. Vol. 1. Non-passerines. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Naoroji, Rishad K.
Tingay, Ruth

Last modified: 5/21/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Lesser Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga humilis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 7 Jul. 2020

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