A Bird with beautiful eyes
Mesmerising eyes and a sharp call, meet the beautiful yet petite hunter in the raptors family – the shikra (Accipiter badius).
After a prolonged period of illness, I take this opportunity to write about another beautiful bird spotted in Nhava Sheva – the beautiful shikra (Accipiter badius).
The word shikra originates from the Persian language, meaning a person who is blessed with sharp eyesight, or a skillful hunter. An apt name for the small raptor. The beautiful eyes of the shikra remind me of the late legendary Bollywood actress, Madhubala. The shikra is found in abundance in Asia and Africa and is also called the little banded goshawk.
Smaller in size than many raptors, the shikra has rounded wings and narrow long tail, with a pointed beak. This pointed beak enables it to hunt lizards, squirrels, and other small birds.
Shikras usually nest between the months of March and June. Often, a shikra nest can be found on a mango tree, cork tree, or a tamarind tree, where the shikra lays 3 to 4 eggs. The colour of the eggs are pale blue and are oval-shaped, with an incubation period of about 3 weeks.
The bird waits patiently on the top of the tree or a lamp pole to hunt its prey. This patient waiting can be for hours, where it can keep an eye out for a squirrel, barbler, or any other small bird. The food pipe of the shikra is so large that it can swallow large meat easily. The flying action of the shikra, as with other raptors, is like a miniature glider.
The identification of the male-female is quite simple. The male has a white colour around the neck with red eyes with black spots. The female has a dark pale grey color and is larger in size than the males. The female shikra’s eyes are yellow in color with a black spot.