What Birds of Prey can you see in India? (10 Species with Pictures & Sounds)

Join us as we take a closer look at 10 different species of birds of prey that you can spot in India.

Embark on a fascinating journey through the diverse landscapes of India, where ancient traditions and rich biodiversity converge. In this informative yet lighthearted guide, we’ll explore 15 awe-inspiring birds of prey found across India. From the iconic Indian Vulture to the elusive Oriental Scops Owl, we’ll delve into their appearance, diet, and where to spot these magnificent raptors in the enchanting realms of India. Get ready to be amazed!

1. Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)

Indian Vulture (Gyps indicus)

The Indian Vulture, a symbol of the subcontinent, is a large and majestic bird with a bald head and a white body adorned with dark flight feathers. These scavengers play a crucial role in the ecosystem by feeding on carrion. You can find them in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, open woodlands, and even near human settlements.

2. Himalayan Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)

Himalayan Vulture · Gyps himalayensis

The Himalayan Griffon, also known as the Himalayan Vulture, is an impressive bird with a wingspan of over 2 meters. Its plumage is a mix of brown, black, and white, and it has a feathered head. These scavengers can be spotted in the higher reaches of the Himalayas, where they soar gracefully above the rugged mountains.

3. Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

Steppe Eagle

The Steppe Eagle is a large bird of prey with a wingspan of around 2 meters. Its plumage varies from light to dark brown, and it has a prominent white patch on its shoulder. These powerful hunters can be found in grasslands and open areas across India. Look for them during their winter migration when they pass through the country.

4. Indian Spotted Eagle (Clanga hastata)

Indian Spotted Eagle (Clanga hastata)

The Indian Spotted Eagle is a medium-sized raptor with a brown body adorned with white spots. They inhabit woodland areas, particularly in central and northern India. These skilled hunters feed on a variety of prey, including small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Keep an eye out for them in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

5. White-eyed Buzzard (Butastur teesa)

White-eyed Buzzard (Butastur teesa)

The White-eyed Buzzard is a medium-sized bird of prey with a distinctive white iris that gives it its name. Its plumage varies from light to dark brown, with pale underparts. They are often found in forested areas, where they hunt small mammals, reptiles, and insects. Look for them perched on tree branches or in flight above the canopy.

6. Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

Crested Serpent Eagle

The Crested Serpent Eagle is a striking bird with a dark brown body, a distinctive crest on its head, and a barred underbelly. As the name suggests, their diet mainly consists of snakes, but they also feed on lizards, birds, and small mammals. Spot them in forested areas, particularly near water bodies, where they patiently await their prey.

7. Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus)

Changeable Hawk-Eagle

The Changeable Hawk-Eagle is a large raptor known for its variable plumage, which can range from dark brown to pale rufous. They are found in forested habitats across India, from the Western Ghats to the Northeastern states. These powerful hunters primarily feed on birds and mammals, and their impressive aerial displays are a sight to behold.

8. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

The Black Kite, a familiar sight in many Indian cities and towns, is a medium-sized bird of prey with dark brown plumage and a forked tail. They are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including urban areas, wetlands, and agricultural landscapes. Their diet consists of carrion, small mammals, birds, and even insects.

9. Shikra (Accipiter badius)

Shikra (Accipiter badius)

The Rough-legged Buzzard is a winter visitor to Iceland, recognizable by its feathered legs, light underparts, and dark “wrist” patches. They prefer open areas such as tundra and marshes, where they hunt for small mammals. Try your luck spotting these birds in the winter months in the northern parts of Iceland.

10. Oriental Scops Owl (Otus sunia)

Oriental Scops Owl (Otus sunia)

The Oriental Scops Owl is a small owl species known for its cryptic plumage and piercing yellow eyes. It can be found in various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and gardens across India. Active at night, they feed on insects, small mammals, and birds. Listen for their distinctive hooting calls after sunset.

In conclusion, India’s vast and diverse landscapes offer a paradise for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. From the regal Indian Vulture to the elusive Oriental Scops Owl, each bird of prey brings its unique charm and ecological significance to the tapestry of India’s wildlife. So, grab your binoculars and immerse yourself in the captivating world of these majestic raptors as you explore the incredible realm of India!