The Changeable Hawk Eagle or otherwise known as Crested Hawk Eagle is a bird of prey. These birds are found in the Indian Subcontinent, from Himalaya to Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia to Indonesia and Philippines. These are solitary birds and are found singly other than the mating season. These birds build a nest with sticks and lay a single egg. These birds are raptors and are generally 24-26 inches in length. This is a slender forest eagle with brown color above and the belly being white. Longitudinal black streaks on the throat and chocolate streaks on the chest identify this bird. Some species of this bird have a crest of 4 feathers.
Wings are long, parallel and hold straight during flight. Surprisingly the males of this species are about 15 % smaller than the females. The call is a loud ki-ki-kee and rises to a crescendo and finally into a scream.
I had seen this bird hunt right in front of my eyes at Bandipur a few years back. This time around I saw this bird swooping down on to a tree at Chinnar National Park. We were returning from Eravikulam National Park and had travelled past the S bend of Chinnar on the Tamilnadu side and were about 1.5-2kms away from the gates of the reserve. Initially all we could see from the inside of our car was the large wings and the underbelly of the bird. As it turned out we had a forest guard from Chinnar with us in the car. Knowing me, he allowed me to get out of the car and stalk the bird. The raptor had perched itself on the branches of a tree a good 20 metres away from our car. As I moved closer the bird would take off and again land a few metres away. Keen on not disturbing the bird too much I contended myself with the few shots of the bird I had taken before it moved away.
I am happy that the forest department took this photograph of the bird and have used it for their official purposes.