Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shaheen Falcon

A birding trip on the Sunday of 3rd October didn't prove to be very fruitful thanks to an overcast sky. I returned with just an image of a Pied Cuckoo, ranting over how the birds weren't kind to me that day. How wrong I was!

At around 5 in the evening, I stepped out to the balcony in my residence at Arekere, Bannerghatta Road and found a bird perched amidst some pipes, five floors below. I couldn't ID the bird, so I photographed the bird right away, before it could take off. 

A quick look through the bird book and I knew it could either be a Peregrine/Shaheen Falcon or an Oriental Hobby. While the Shaheen Falcon is a breeding resident all over the country, the Oriental Hobby is a resident only in the NE and the Himalayas. The lack of streaks on the breast and belly of the bird caused some amount of confusion.

I messaged a couple of friends, desperate to confirm the ID. While I waited to hear from them, I watched the bird's behavior. It spent a lot of time just sitting still, at times its eyes were closed too and it seemed to be taking a short nap. In the interim, the bird also kept preening.

When I described the bird's colors to a friend, he said it could be a Shaheen Falcon. Though there was a stronger possibility of the bird being a Shaheen Falcon, an Oriental Hobby has been sighted here in Bangalore a decade ago, so the possibility couldn't be ruled out. I processed a couple of images and mailed them to get a better idea of the bird species.

Meanwhile, the bird continued to groom itself. I found it scratching and then fluffing its feathers. It also *pooped* a couple of times. It seemed as if the bird had fed and was taking some time off from flying. Loud and large groups of Pigeons didn't disturb it, neither did a bunch of Black Kites hovering above.

Thanks to the bad viewing angle, it became quite difficult to judge the size of the bird, but I was quite sure it was a little larger than a Shikra and an Oriental Hobby would have been smaller. A year ago, during the months of September - October, my Father had photographed a similar bird in the building, perched on a bicycle, 6 floors below. The image was from a point and shoot camera, with about 3x optical zoom. He remembers how crows tried to mob the bird and it took off, like a jet.

More discussions with friends and it was confirmed that the bird is a Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus peregrinator), an Indian subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). 
The bird spent more than 40 minutes on the perch and then quietly bid adieu, its a pity I missed the take-off.

And now, I wait for the Falcon to make its next visit..


  1. Wooooow...coming over to your apartment immi-jet-ly! :)

    Lovely post and considering the difficulty, very nice photos!


  2. HI Radha,

    Nice and interesting post... hope so it would itself very soon....


  3. Nice and interesting post... Hope so it would show itself very soon...


  4. Here's hoping the falcon makes it a habit of visiting you!nice post:)

  5. Oh wonderful.

    I think, I would have gone to the floor where it could have got the eyelevel view of this, great observation for 40mins.

  6. @Deepa - Thank you, you are welcome anytime :)

    @Shekar,@Ranjini - Thank you :)

    @Shiva Shankar - Thank you! The thought did cross my mind, but that would mean knocking at a stranger's door and asking for access to their balcony :)

  7. Made for a nice read... Very lucky to have observed the bird for so long! :)

  8. Good sighting and post. Where is your apartment located?

  9. @Subbu - Thank you!
    My apartment is located in Arekere Mico Layout, Off Bannerghatta Road

  10. U stay near Bannerghatta rd ... hmmm interesting ... always thought somewhere near JP ngr ...

    Anyway .... nice post .. gripping .. i wanted to kno what family it was .. too :P

  11. Hi Radha,

    Lovely post and pics! Lucky you - to see a shaheen falcon without stepping out :))

  12. @Santo - Thank you :) Moved here over a year ago.

    @Uma - Thank you, it was one of those lucky days :)

  13. Fabulous!!!! :) When do I visit you for birding :P

  14. @Nagesh - Thanks! You are welcome anytime :)

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