Grey-headed Fish Eagle

Scientific Name: Icthyophaga ichthyaetus

Malay Name: Helang-Kanguk Besar

Chinese Name: 灰头渔雕

Range: Resident from the Indian subcontinent through southeast Asia, Sulawesi and Philippines.

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 69-74 cm

Identification: Adults with prominent greyish head, brown belly, brownish upperparts. Sub-adut browner with less distinct contrast. Distinguished from sub-adult White-bellied Sea Eagle by the presence of the distinct white vent and undertail coverts. Told apart the extirpated and highly unexpected Lesser Fish Eagle (a species that still resides in Johor that is reliant on pristine forest and big streams) by its bigger size and the presence of a white tail base.

Similar looking species: White-bellied Sea Eagle

Habitat: Woodland adjacent to waterbodies

Behaviour/Ecology: Has a loud barking call and a haunting owl-like call that is often heard at dawn and dusk. Diet primarily consists of fish and is frequently observed hunting at various waterbodies across Singapore. Also along coastal area but with density much less than White-bellied Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites.

Local Status: Common resident

Conservation Status: Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2017)

Location: Across various sites in the country near waterbodies including reservoirs, ponds and even canals.


BirdLife International. (2017). Icthyophaga ichthyaetus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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