1760. Nlsaetus nipalensis nipalensis Hodgs.
The NEPAL FEATHER-TOED Hawk-Eagle.
Spizaetus nipalensis nipalensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v. p. 89.
Limnaetops nipalensis nipalensis, ibid. vol. viii, p. 685.
The breeding range of this fine Eagle is all along the Himalayas from Hazara to Eastern Assam, both Worth and South of the Brahma¬pootra. It extends into the Plains and breeds sparingly there and, according to Osmaston (A. E.), regularly in the Gorakpur district in the North-East of the United Provinces (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxii, p. 557, 1902). In 1910 he obtained a nest with the usual single egg high up in Sal-tree. Normally I think it breeds bewteen 2,000 and 7,000 feet, and Donald says that it breeds “in suitable localities all over the Himalayas between 6,000 and 8,000 feet” (ibid. vol. xvii, p. 825, 1907).
Whymper took many nests of this Eagle in Kuman, and his interesting notes to me, sent in letters and with data for eggs, include nearly all that can ho said about the nidification. These Eagles are birds of forests, both deciduous and evergreen, and seem to have a special fondness for the tallest trees growing in forest by streams. Donald says that a favourite tree is a large Deodar in a clearing standing by itself, with a few dead trees close by, and surrounded by forest. He also notes that he found the nests almost invariably on Deodars, but Jones found one on a Bastard Oak (Quercus dilatata), Buchanan one on a huge Pine, while Whymper took nests in “saj” and other species of trees. The nest is nearly always at a great height from the ground, generally over 40 feet and sometimes 80 feet or more. The nest itself is quite typical of the genus, a great mass of sticks and twigs with a definite depression for the egg, which is invariably lined with green leaves, large and thick leaves being preferred, though occa¬sionally smaller leaves and green twigs are employed. The nests are untidily put together but are compact and strong, being used for many years, not necessarily every year, as some birds have alternative nests, using Sometimes one sometimes the other. Unlike the birds of the cirrhatus group, which are cowardly, the Nepal bird is exceptionally fierce and bold. An instance is narrated by Whymper as follows :—“ Spizaetus nepalensis nearly deceived us this year by leaving the old nest and fiercely attacking a man who went up to it. As they had done nothing at all in the way of repairs to the old nest, after thinking it over I came to the con¬clusion they must have another nest near by. We returned another day and found a nest 400 yards away up the nullah, and got a lovely egg from it. We had a tremendous battle. As I did not want to shoot her we armed ourselves with plenty of throwing sticks, and
I nearly knocked her over with one, but she did not mind and attacked eight times. Once my man up the tree hit her such a whack with his fiat that it lifted her right up in the air, but in spite of this she wheeled round and took his cap off, wounding him in the head. They are the bravest birds I have ever seen, and the speed with which they attack must be seen to be believed ; they start from a tree several yards away and come on straight as a dart." On other occasions he notes ; “The bird attacked the climber most savagely, and I had to pepper her to drive her off and again, “the bird attacked, tearing the man’s clothes and wounding him on the hand,”
In spite of being “peppered” with shots the birds never seemed to desert the nests, and were found breeding in them year after year.
The breeding season is in February and March, but Jones took one egg from a nest on the 24th April, while Whymper took another as late as the 15th May. Only one egg is laid.
The eggs of this bird are not often like those of the cirrhatus group. Occasionally one may be practically pure white, but the majority are of two types : first, pale clay or reddish-white, profusely stippled all over with rather darker red and with here and there small blotches of still darker red or red-brown ; these eggs are very like small eggs of a common type of Bearded Vulture’s eggs. Secondly, pure white, handsomely and sometimes profusely blotched and spotted With rich red at the larger end, the spots being scanty elsewhere and absent at the small end.
Sixteen egga average 69.9 x 53.8 mm. : maxima 72.7 x 54.4 mm. ; minima 65.0 x 51.2 mm.
In this particular species and race the male bird seems to do little beyond bringing the material for the female to build or repair the nest. He generally keeps—at all events during the heat of the day—somewhere near where the female is sitting, but there appears to be no instance recorded of his assisting the female in attacking intruders.
1760. Nisaetus nipalensis nipalensis
1760. Nlsaetus nipalensis nipalensis Hodgs.