Birding in Chennai - Crested Hawk Eagle

It was an exam day for me and my mom woke me up early with the hope that I would revise something. I was positively in a mood to do that and opened the backyard door. I sat there at the steps and the morning breeze was awesome and chill. The birds were chirping. I loved the atmosphere and started to study. My mom prepared me a cuppa coffee and I started sipping it and continued studying. 

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

Then suddenly I realised the chirping of birds was not absolutely normal. Something was definitely wrong. The crows were literally yelling at the top of their voice. I began to wonder what was wrong. I was sure shot something was wrong. I expected it would be the same 3 monkeys that is being visiting our neighbourhood often now (I'll tell you the monkey story later!!!). I turned around to look out if I could spot any. No. Nothing. The trees were not unusally active, the movement was only the breeze. Obviously you know what a monkey in a tree would react like. I didn't bother and tried to continue studying.

In some time, the sound became much of a chorus and multi species-ed!!! The crows were joined by Mynas, Parrots, Koels, Jungle Babblers and Jungle Crows!!! Now, that was unusual!!! I was starting to get a bit petrified. My mind thought of everything possible. May be they are detecting a natural calamity, or may be there is a leopard in the neighbourhood tree, may be this, may be that. 
I had to know what was wrong. I closed my book and went upstairs to the terrace and opened the terrace door with a great caution. I didn't want to meet a leopard face to face!!!

But there, on our neighbour's coconut tree, was the magestic Crested Hawk Eagle. I was like 'OMG!!!'. I ran down to grab my camera. I ran up again and kept taking some shots of this bird. The crows and Jungle crows were trying to approach the Eagle and trying to shoo it away. But in vain. I mean, absolutely in vain!!! It was so magestic and so strong that the crows were trying so hard but were really scared too!!! The Koels and Parrots were flying above them in the sky. The Babblers were on my neighbour's terrace and screeching. The Mynas were in the nearby trees and shouting the might, but nothing could even move this bird!!!

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai

So, here are the details from Wikipedia:
The Crested Hawk-Eagle or Changeable Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus) is a bird of prey species of the family Accipitridae. Crested Hawk-Eagles breed in southern Asia in India and Sri Lanka, and from the southeast rim of the Himalaya across Southeast Asia to Indonesia and the Philippines. This is a bird occurring singly (outside mating season) in open woodland, although island forms prefer a higher tree density. It builds a stick nest in a tree and lays a single egg.
The Crested Hawk-Eagle is a medium-large raptor at about 60–72 centimetres (24–28 in) in length. Normally brown above; white below with barring on the undersides of the flight feathers and tail; black longitudinal streaks on throat and chocolate streaks on breast. Some subspecies have a crest of four feathers, but this is all but absent in others. The sexes are quite similar in their plumage, but males are about 15% smaller than females. The underparts and head of juveniles are whitish or buff with few dark streaks.
I was there at the terrace, totally forgotten my exam when my mom yelled at me and ran down to get ready. I went back as soon as I was ready, but by then, the King was gone!!!!!

Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai  Crested Hawk Eagle Birding Chennai


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. शानदार फ़ोटो है, बहुत अच्छे लगे

  2. Nice bit of bird watching Mitr and I didn't realise you had become a "Biker Chic".{:)

  3. nice post with information

  4. It must have been wonderful to see this tawny eagle. Too bad your photos are too small for a good look.

  5. Hello,

    Those photos were fantastic and description very interesting.

    Best wishes,

  6. That's really amazing!! Thanks so much for commenting on my blog! If you followed, can you please try again. I don't think Google registered you and I'll be more than happy to return the follow :)

  7. Great spotting. What a gorgeous bird!

  8. This is not a Tawny Eagle but a juvenile Changeable (crested) Hawk-eagle.
    V. Santharam
    Rishi Valley

  9. Magnificent shots. Really enjoyed this. When did you become a bird watcher ? I was an avid bird watcher for many years and would always carry my binoculars and Salim Ali's book on Indian Birds whenever I traveled. This is a great hobby -opens you to a whole new world of adventure & excitement.

  10. gr8 sighting - most of these raptors are so majestic!

  11. @Sandeep,
    Thank you. I am glad you liked them... :)

    Oh yeah, I've become a Biker Chic!!! :)

    @Krishna & Magiceye & Hungover on Fashion & Joseph Cheta & Jose & Sandeep,
    Thanks dears.. :)

    What to do. It was pretty far for my simple cam... :(

    @Baby Budget Blog,
    Oh... I'll try that again... :)

    Thanks for the correction.. :)

    Welcome back.. :)
    I too have Salim Ali's book.. :)


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