Monday, January 30, 2012

Meet the Shikra

Shikras (Accipiter badius) are birds of prey native to many parts of Asia and Africa. As members of the same family as goshawks, shikras are sometimes referred to as little banded goshawks.

Usually less than a foot long, shikras are quite small for birds of prey. Male shikras can be identified by their red eyes and pale grey plumage, whereas females are darker brown and have yellow eyes. Both sexes have short, rounded wings and long tails. There are six known subspecies of shikra that differ somewhat in size, appearance, and range.

Photo Copyright: Avadhesh Malik
Shikras usually hunt from perches such as tree branches, swooping down to grab common prey animals such as birds, lizards, and bats. Ariel pursuits of birds may happen occasionally, but smaller birds are often able to escape through dense brush in more heavily forested areas.

Breeding season for shikras usually occurs anywhere between January and June depending on location and in some portions of Africa may take place at any time of year. Most shikras lay anywhere from 2-4 eggs that hatch roughly a month later. Chicks are ready for fledging roughly a month after being born. Shikras have a stable global population of roughly one million, and are not currently considered threatened.

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