1754. Lophotriorchis kieneri

(1754) Lophotriorchis kieneri*.

THE Rufous-Bellied HAWK-EAGLE.

Astur kieneri de Sparre, Mag. Zool., 1835, Aves, pi. 35 (Himalayas). Lophotriorchis kieneri. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 345.

Vernacular names. None recorded.

Description. Head above and on the sides, upper parts, scapulars and wing-coverts black, the head slightly glossy; primary coverts and quills blackish-brown, the secondaries paler brown on the edges of the inner webs; tail dark brown banded with paler greyish-brown, almost obsolete on the central tail-feathers; chin throat and upper breast white, more or less tinged with fulvous or ferruginous and with long black stripes on the breast and on the centre and sides of the chin and throat; lower breast, flanks, abdomen, thigh-coverts and under tail-coverts deep ferruginous, the abdomen and flanks streaked with black and the latter with a few almost entirely black feathers; under wing-coverts and axillaries mixed rufous and black.

Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill plumbeous-grey, the tip black ; cere yellow; legs and feet dull yellow.

Measurements. wing about 380 mm.; tail about 204 mm.; tarsus about 76 mm.; culmen about 33 to 35 mm. wing 405 to 433 mm.; tail 228 to 242 mm.; tarsus 79 to 82 mm.; culmen 35 to 37 mm.

Young birds are brown above, the feathers with pale edges and dark centres ; there is a broad white supercilium extending in a line across the forehead; cheeks and sides of neck mixed fulvous and white with small black central streaks here and there; the tail is dark brown with broad grey bars and a narrow pale tip; the lower parts are white throughout, sometimes faintly tinged with fulvous and with a few scattered streaks of black.

Distribution. Eastern Himalayas from Nepal to Eastern-Assam ; Eastern Bengal. South-West coast of India from Southern Bombay Presidency to Ceylon; Malacca and many of the Malay Islands to the Philippines.

Nidification. The Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle undoubtedly breeds wherever found but it is a rare bird everywhere except in Travancore, and Stewart is the only naturalist who has taken eggs. He describes the nest as a typical Eagle's nest, a massive structure of sticks placed high up in some tall tree standing iu dense forest. Each pair of Eagles seems to possess a very large area for breeding-purposes and the majority of pairs have two alternative nests, sometimes using one and sometimes the other but sticking to the two for very many years in succession. Both birds assist in incubation and one is always present at the nest and, so fierce and pugnacious are they, it is impossible to take eggs or young until the birds have either been killed or well peppered with small shot, wounds from which they seem to recover very quickly. There is only one egg laid and this is placed on a lining of green leaves which, sometimes at all events, are replaced by a fresh supply when withered. The eggs are dull grey-white and are nearly always slightly marked with flecks or small blotches of light red, whilst in a few instances the markings are larger and bolder and have also underlying marks of lavender and blue-grey, giving the egg quite a handsome appearance. Sixteen eggs average 61.2 x 48.1 mm.: maxima 66.1 x 49.2 and 65.1 x 50.9 mm.; minima 53.8 X 44.9 mm. They lay from the middle of December to the middle of March.

Habits. This Eagle is a bird of the forest, both evergreen and deciduous, being found from the broken country at the foot-hills up to about 5,000 feet in the mountains. In Travancore it is most common between 1,500 and 3,000 feet. It is a most courageous bird and very much like the Falcons in flight and in manner of stooping and killing its prey. It feeds much on game and especially on spurfowl, jungle-fowl and pheasants, stooping to them when they are running along the ground or actually squatting among grass or cover. I saw one once swoop at something in thin jasmine undergrowth in an evergreen forest and found that it had killed a fine Kalij cock pheasant, splitting its back open and almost tearing off its head. It is extraordinarily quick in its movements and dashes through thick tree-growth in a headlong manner without coming to grief. The only cry I have heard is a plaintive scream, not unlike that of a Kite, for which I first mistook it.

* Stresemann separates the Formosan bird as L. k.. formosus

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.5 1928.
Title in Book: 
1754. Lophotriorchis kieneri
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Rufous Bellied Hawk Eagle
Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle
Lophotriorchis kienerii
Vol. 5

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