Pak heritage falcon sighted in Nilgiris

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The Shaheen falcon, the national heritage bird of Pakistan, has now been sighted in the Manjoor area of the Nilgiris. Stating that this was, indeed, a rare and blessed opportunity, K. Vijay, a well-known name in the field of bird-watching in the Nilgiris, who is also executive committee member of the Nilgiris Wildlife and Environment Association, said he was very excited to spot the bird in the Manjoor belt and thus photographed it.
“It is a very rare migrant to the Nilgiris. It was last recorded in the Nilgiris way back in 1987,” he added. Saying that it is an attractive raptor, he said the Shaheen falcon was a small and powerful-looking bird with blackish upper parts and rufous coloured under parts with dark streaks and white plumage in the throat region.
“It is commonly distributed in the northern Himalayan parts and around the Kashmir region. In Pakistan, it is a special attraction as it is known as the national heritage bird of that country,” he added.
Saying that it usually prefers to move around cliffs and rocky surfaces, he said it is one of the fastest flying birds as it is known to achieve a speed limit ranging between 240 and 320 km/hour.
While it generally preys on other small birds, it is adapted to taking prey during flight.
It is known to dive from great heights to strike prey with its talons, he pointed out.
“Though the male and female look alike, the female is slightly larger in size. The Shaheen falcon is a common winter migrant as some of them even move up to Sri Lanka. Its breeding season ranges from December to April. The birds prefer crevices in rocks to built their nest and lay eggs,” he said, and added that the sighting of the Shaheen falcon in the Manjoor area, which is on the west of Ooty, showed that the perfect habitat for this bird to migrate during winter is available here.

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