Birdlife in Indonesia

Sea Eagle Birds of Indonesia
A White Bellied Sea Eagle

While cruising in Indonesia aboard the private yacht Samata, we enjoy taking our guests to some very special places. The anchorages that we visit offer scenic vistas with a plethora of activities. These activities include paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, hiking, and a whole lot more. One of the highlights for our guests is the chance to encounter the amazing local wildlife. Of course everyone knows the infamous Komodo Dragon and the rich underwater wildlife of Indonesia. But what about the birdlife in Indonesia?

As a large tropical country, Indonesia is home to a large variety of birds. In fact, some of the most famous birds in the world, the Birds of Paradise, are only found in this region. We will leave these beautiful birds for another post. Instead we would like to talk about two predatory raptors that we see throughout the country. These raptors are the White Bellied Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster, and the Brahminy Kite, Haliastur indus. These two large predators are found throughout our cruising range and are always a delight to encounter.

The White Bellied Sea Eagle

White Bellied Birdlife in Indonesia
White Bellied Sea Eagle

The White Bellied Sea Eagle is the largest predatory bird in Indonesia. With a wingspan reaching 2.2 meters (over 7 feet) and a weight of up to 4.5 kg (10 pounds) these are very large birds. The female is slightly larger than the male in this species. The adults boast a striking white and black plumage with their name sake white belly. The juveniles are more of a brown colour that does not change until they are quite large. This colouration can lead to mistaking the juvenile eagle as a different species.

These eagle are found throughout Indonesia but mostly near the sea. They tend to roost in large trees or even cliffs and high islands. Their main diet consists of fish but they also eat rodents, snakes, even bats and other birds. They range from India to Indonesia and southern China and even as far south as Tasmania. They are mainly monogamous and stay together as a pair for many years. Mating pairs also tend to remain in one territory throughout their existence.
Although they are the largest, most dominant predatory bird in the area, they sometimes bully other birds. It’s not unknown for them to swoop onto smaller birds to steal their prey.

The Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite Birdlife in Indonesia
Brahminy Kite

Not to be outdone by its larger competitor, the Brahminy Kite is another top predator that we find in Indonesia. Sharing a similar habitat as the Sea Eagle, the kite is a smaller bird that is often mistaken for a hawk. In fact, this bird resembles a smaller version of the North American Bald Eagle.

With a beautiful bronze and white colour scheme, this kite is unmistakable across most of its range. They build their nests in tall trees and are often found nesting in mangrove areas. They are often found nesting in large groups.

Surprisingly enough, they are mainly a scavenger when it comes to feeding and are often found eating dead fish or crabs. They are known to capture and eat rabbits and bats. In coastal areas of Indonesia they will often scavenge on beaches for items washing up on shore.

The Brahminy Kite is the official bird of Jakarta. In one of the most interesting tales, this particular bird is the modern representation of Garuda, the sacred bird of the Hindu god Vishnu.

Birdlife in Indonesia – Komodo

Sharp eyed bird enthusiasts can see these birds on pretty much every journey aboard the Samata. The Komodo National Park is an especially rich area for raptor populations. It seems every bay has its resident sea eagle pair. Although these two species often overlap it’s rare to see them tussle. The much larger sea eagle seems like it would be an easy match for the kite, but the kite has the advantage of speed and agility.

Brahminy Kite Fishing
Brahminy Kite Fishing

If you are interested in birdlife in Indonesia during your trip aboard the Samata please let the crew know. We would be more than happy to help you spot these magnificent animals in their full glory. We have ample binoculars on board if you would like a closer look. Do keep an ear out as well, they are known to be quite raucous and their calls are rather distinct.

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