Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Near Threatened

Lesser Fish-eagle (Icthyophaga humilis)


French: Pygargue nain German: Braunschwanz-Seeadler Spanish: Pigarguillo menor
Other common names: Lesser Fishing-eagle

Falco (Pandion) humilis

S. Müller and Schlegel

, 1841,



In the past was frequently listed as I. nana, but name humilis has priority. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. h. plumbea (Jerdon, 1871) – N India (Himachal) SE through Himalayas to Myanmar and Indochina (except SW); rare on Hainan#R.
  • I. h. humilis (S. Müller & Schlegel, 1841) – Malay Peninsula (from Tenasserim) and Sumatra through Borneo to Sulawesi, Sula Is and Buru (S Moluccas).
  • Also present (race unknown) locally in SW India (Kerala and Karnataka)#R#R.

    Descriptive notes

    51–68 cm; 780–785 g; wingspan 120–165 cm. Small and small-headed, Buteo-sized, greyish-brown fishing eagle with finely streaked, greyer head and... read more


    Querulous cackling vocalizations, which sound distinctly plaintive and child-like at distance,... read more


    Forested margins of fast-flowing streams and rivers in lowlands and foothills; sometimes found in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost exclusively fish. Catches fish by means of short sally from streamside perch or mid-stream rock, sometimes snatching it off surface... read more


    Little studied. Season Nov–Apr in Myanmar, Mar–Aug in India and Nepal; nest found in Apr in Laos. Adults quite vocal during... read more


    Largely sedentary, but altitudinal movements reported in Himalayan region, moving down to plains in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Global population little known; BirdLife International gives preliminary estimate in range 10,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clark, W.S., Kirwan, G.M. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Lesser Fish-eagle (Icthyophaga humilis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 February 2020).