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Common Name : Grey-headed Fish Eagle     -       Scientific Name : Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus       -       Other Name : Tank Eagle (E), Wew Rajaliya (S)
Maradanmaduwa Tank
Maila Wewa

This impressive eagle is an uncommon breeding resident which inhabits tanks and rivers surrounded by forests or tall trees in the dry lowlands. It seldom visits the wet zone. Other than in Sri Lanka it is also found in India, Nepal and to the east through Southeast Asia to Philippines and Sulawesi.

The conservation status of this species is regarded as “Near Threatened” (National Red List 2012).

This is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

I have seen this species in all the dry zone National Parks and other locations such as Kala Wewa, Anuradapura, Polonnaruwa, Mihinthle, Anawilundawa, Habarana and Nawadankulama. In the north I have seen it in the Mannar island but never seen it so far in the Jaffna Peninsula. I have seldom seen it out side the dry lowlands. The highest altitude at which I have seen it is at 420 meters at Theldeniya. I have also seen it Oliyagan Kele close to Kamburupitiya and at Katugahagalge close to Badalkumbura.

This bird is more often heard than seen. It has a very loud weird wailing call, which is uttered during early mornings and evenings. Some times during the breeding season a pair would make these gurgling calls well in to the night. Unlike the other eagles this species would rarely soar high up in to the sky. I have seen them perched on the same branch over looking water for long periods of time and, if disturbed, making short flights across the water to reach another concealed perch.

This is not a commonly seen bird at Wilpattu. I have seen them at Percy Bendi Wewa, Mila Wewa, Kumbuk Wila and at Maradanmaduwa tank.