Accipiter Badius… More like Accipiter Badass!
You have to give it to this bird – the way it stares at you, as if it graduated with honors from the ‘Looking mean and not giving a damn’ University. And then, there are the stories that we have heard about Indian Shikra birds swooping down on prey like lizards and termites and even chase pigeons and francolins! You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that this is one not-to-be-messed-with bird.
The Indian Shikra, scientifically known as Accipiter Badius dussumieri, is a relatively small sized raptor which is quite similar to other sparrowhawk species.
Found in a wide range of habitats including forests, farms and even urban areas. Its population is spread across the Lower Himalayas (up to 1400mts) and all over the remaining Indian subcontinent. However it cannot survive in extreme cold or high altitudes.
Indian Shikra birds look very different as juveniles and as adults. Young ones have brown upper parts and bright yellow eyes. Adult Shikras have an entirely different plumage with slate grey wings and upper parts and a whitish belly with rufous stripes. Males have been known to have vibrant red irises while females, larger in size, tend to have deep yellow or yellow-orange eyes. Shikras tend to be 26-30cm in length and are quite like other Accipiter hawks in terms of their appearance, flight and overall body shape.
- Shikra calls are mimicked by drongos to alarm other birds and aid their hunting and feeding activities.
- Small birds tend to rapidly dive through foliage to avoid getting caught by a Shikra. Kingfishers have been observed to go as far as dive into water to save themselves from this raptor’s grip.
- Babblers often rally together in groups to drive this bird away and save their flock.
- Shikras are also known by the name of Little Banded Goshawks.
- Indian Shikras are also known as Indian Sparrowhawk, Northern Shikra, Shikra Goshawk
- Known for its pluck and courage, it regularly challenges birds that are much larger than itself in size. Perhaps this is the reason why the Indian Shikra has been given the honour of having an Indian Navy Helicopter Based named after it – the INS Shikra.