Sylvester Alphonso brings another of his avian sightings from his birding chronicles. A small raptor found in the Indian sub-continent, the white-eyed buzzard.
On a trip to a farm house in Karjat, I spotted a bird with white dazzling eyes. This bird was sitting quietly perched in a corner. It was none other than a White-eyed Buzzard (Butastur teesa).
This is a unique bird with the white eyes of man. It is mainly found in the Indian Himalayas till 1000m altitude, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The size is smaller than the size of the kite or like a medium sized hawk. The male female identification is difficult. The young ones can be identified by a white head and darker body. The adults are brown in color with a white throat. There are whitish nuchal patch and buffish wing shoulders with brown and white underparts. The unique thing about this bird is that it has a yellow and white spot above the beak. The beak is black in color with a curve that makes it look beautiful. The added attraction is the bright white spot on the throat. It is distinctly identifiable from the true buzzards in the genus buteo found in South Asia. They sit upright on perches for long periods. The adults have a rufous tail. In flight, the narrow wings rounded with black tips to the feathers and wing lining appears dark and majestic, much like a shikra.
This bird mainly feeds on locusts, grasshoppers, cricket and other large insects such as frogs, lizards and mice, their prey easily found in the arid and semi-arid rigions and dry open forests and cultivated fields.
In autumn, large numbers of young White-eyed Buzzards are found in western and northwestern India in arid and semi-arid regions. They are loud and vociferous during mating season and their mewing call can be heard as they soar in the sky together.
Image Credits (for all images): Sylvestor Alphonso