RV Matters - 23 July 2019

Driving along the Mudivedu-CTM road, last week, we had stopped by to take a look at the birds along the road. It was close to sunset and as we watched, a large eagle swooped down from the skies to land at the edge of a freshly ploughed field. As I moved towards it, expecting to see it feed on a large mammal or bird, I noticed nothing. Looking at its features, I identified the eagle as an Indian Spotted Eagle, a species not seen by me earlier in this area.

Wondering what the bird was up to, I observed more closely to see the bird pick something small from the ground and consume it. It repeated this act several times over the next few minutes and then I realized the bird was picking up winged termites that were emerging from the soil.

 Even as the eagle was engrossed in its feast, with loud noisy calls, flew in seven Common Mynas and a pair of Black drongos. They sat all around the eagle. For a while, I expected the newcomers would mob the eagle, forcing it to flee as they normally do not tolerate the presence of raptors near them. This did not happen. These birds too joined in the feast and started foraging on the winged termites, venturing quite close to the eagle that hardly paid attention to the smaller birds. This went on for over 10 minutes, after which the eagle took off and flew away after making a few sorties in the air.

Winged termites are a delicacy amongst birds and I have observed several times, several species like Indian Robin, Bulbuls, Sunbirds, Swifts and swallows, Babblers, Crows enjoying the bounty when these insects emerge in a swarm. Even large eagles and birds of prey catch them in flight. Termites are a source of protein and no one including humans (tribals, in particular) misses the opportunity to feast on them!


Dr Santharam