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Brahminy kite is a small eagle found near coastlines. Guests of Miguel’s Diving can observe this beautiful bird from our dive boat or while relaxing at our dock.
Guests of Miguel’s Diving can watch for Brahminy kites as we leave the dock for a day’s diving or when we return. With its distinctive white head and reddish-brown body and wings, the Brahminy kite is easy to spot. Often, several will circle, hover, and dive in the river estuary where our dock is located.
This bird is a mostly scavenger and will dive to grasp anything dead floating downriver. If the bird does not like the floating object it has grabbed from the river, it will drop it. These birds also will steal what another bird has grabbed, making them both beautiful and opportunistic. Moreover, it will occasionally grab and eat live prey, such as rats, bats, or crabs.
Brahminy kite nesting season in Southeast Asia lasts from December to April. Happily, this coincides with diving season in Gorontalo. Moreover, natural forest covers the steep mountains on each side of the river where our dive center is located. Beginning in the Dutch era until the present, residents were forbidden to cut fire wood along those steep slopes. The intention was to prevent erosion during heavy rains. However, an additional benefit is plenty of habitat for this bird to nest.
Regional Names for the Brahminy kite
Populations of this beautiful bird range from India, to Southeast Asia, to coastal Australia. European natural scientists conducted the initial surveys of this bird in India where it was common coastally and considered sacred. For that reason, its scientific name is Haliastur indus. As a result, its common name is Brahminy kite. Hindus regard this bird as a contemporary representation of Vishnu’s sacred bird, Garuda.
Similarly, the Ibans of Borneo believe the Brahminy kite is a manifestation of the god of war. They call this consummate bird burung Singalang. In Indonesian, its name is elang bondol. The City of Jakarta named it as official mascot in 1989. Sadlly, it has mostly disappeared from that area. Its population on Java has also diminished.
A Subspecies and its Friends
Actually, the Brahminy kite found in the Philippines, along the Malay peninsula, among the Sunda islands, and throughout coastal Sulawesi, including Gorontalo, is a subspecies Haliastur indus intermedius. This comes from a study that Byth published in 1865.
The Brahminy kite is similar in size to the Black kite (Milvus migrans), which we also see flying above the dive center. Both birds have similar flight patterns and angled wings. However, the Black kite has a forked tail. Its coloration is darkish and drab. The Black kite is more commonly seen in Gorontalo.
Once or twice a year, a migrating White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) or an Osprey (Pandion halietus) will visit the forest around dive center. The Indonesian government has officially given protected status to the Brahminy kite. The relevant laws passed in 1990 and 1999. For your chance to see this beautiful bird, please make your dive reservations directly with Miguel’s Diving.