1783. Ichthyophaga nanus plumbeus

(1783) Ichthyophaga nanus plumbeus (Jerdon).
THE HIMALAYAN GREY-HEADED FISHING-EAGLE.
Ichthyophaga humilis plumbeus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v, p. 117.
Ichthyophaga nanus plumbeus, ibid, vol. viii, p. 687.
This race takes the place of the preceding throughout the lower outer hills of the Himalayas from Kuman and Kashmir to Eastern Assam and Upper Burma. It is not uncommon on all the small and some of the larger rivers running through the hills at all heights from the foot-hills up to some 6,000 feet but, in the Eastern Himalayas and Northern Assam, I found it only exceptionally above about 2,500 feet. In most rivers the dividing line between the areas occupied by ichthyaetus and this species is fairly distinct, the former keeping to the sluggish streams and rivers of the lower hills and plains, while the latter keeps to the more rapid, clearer running water of the higher reaches. On some streams, however, where there are long stretches of slow-moving current between the low hills, yet here and there this is broken by small falls, torrents alternating with small clear pools, the breeding area overlaps. Thus on the Diyung River I have taken the nest and eggs of ichthyaetus two days’ journey, say about 50 or 60 miles, higher up the river than a nest taken two days later of plumbeus. In this case each bird was a day’s journey above or below its normal range.
This Fishing-Eagle in the North and North-West of India seems to be quite as much a bird of open lands as of forest, though they always nest on trees either in or dose to the banks of rivers. In the Eastern Himalayas they keep strictly to well-forested country, and I have never seen their nest in any tree in open land, cultivated Or waste.
The nests I have seen were only moderately large, about 3 feet in diameter and varying in depth according to the number of years during which they had been occupied. A new, or comparatively new, nest might he a few inches to nearly a foot deep, while I have seen an old nest, said to have been in existence at least forty years, which was deeper than broad and fully 4 feet from top to bottom. The latter was quite decayed and fell away in dust and fragments as we disturbed the nest in taking the eggs. Generally there is a good lining of green leaves.
Two nests recorded by Hume must be referred to as rather unusual in description. Cock, speaking of a nest found at Hassen Abdul, in the extreme North-West, writes :—“The nest was about 5.1/2 feet in height and about 4.1/2 feet in diameter, and but slightly hollow.” Hume himself observes : “It constructs its own nest, returning year after year to the same spot, and each year adding fresh materials, so that the nest, a very large one to begin with, grows in time to an enormous size,” Unwin, however, describes a nest as made of “sticks, stubble, weeds and coarse grass, and was about 2.1/2 to 3 feet in diameter,”
The breeding-season is March, April and May. Hume says that he believes that they generally lay in January, but gives no instances of their so doing, though Unwin found a young bird, four or five weeks old, on the 27th February.
Normally two or three eggs are laid, two as often as three, but in the North-West Hume says that three is the normal full clutch, though Whymper always found two only. Very rarely four egga may be seen.
They are just small replicas of those of the larger species, and twenty-eight average 66.2 x 50.3 nm. ; maxima 76.0 x 53.0 mm. ; minima 60.2 x 46.6 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 4. 1935.
Title in Book: 
1783. Ichthyophaga nanus plumbeus
Spp Author: 
Jerdon.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1783
Year: 
1935
Page No: 
85
Common name: 
Himalayan Geey Headed Fishing Eagle
M_ID: 
3072
M_SN: 
Haliaeetus humilis plumbeus
Volume: 
Vol. 4
Term name: 
id: 
14958

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