Hyderabad: Never quit. That seems to be the lesson from nature. If it was a gritty Great Cormorant from Madinaguda Lake on Monday, this time it is an Indian Eagle Owl, which is surviving with just one talon. The talon, the large, hooked claw that birds of prey use to tear flesh, is the most powerful organ of raptors. “A missing talon would mean certain death for any raptor. Any injury on this part seriously impacts its ability to hunt,” says Fareed Mohmed, wildlife photographer and member of Hyderabad Birding Pals, who caught the owl on his camera. This species hunts by attacking unsuspecting prey from behind. It approaches with a silent flight and instantly kills the prey with its large talons..
According to him, the owl with its missing right talon was noticed in January last year near Hyderabad while he was birding with his friend and birder Ajinkya Supekar. “After Ajinkya’s find, we looked into all old photos and found we had photographed him about a year earlier. It is living in that spot since at least from April 2017,” says Fareed. He again caught the same owl on his last Sunday. Deep mystery “We had the opportunity to spot him again and on close inspection, found that his left talon too was mutilated. A total of over two years between the first photograph and today! How he is surviving in the wild is a mystery,” says Fareed. “He looks no different from other owls around him. In the last breeding season we noticed two juveniles around his nesting spot and this season, saw one. This indicates it is able to handle all day-to-day activities very well,” says Fareed. As to how the owl could have lost its talon, Fareed guesses that it could have been due to a hunt or a fight with other predators, or in the worst case scenario, due to a trap laid by poachers. “It might have got stuck and escaped with this injury,” he says, adding that the Indian Eagle Owl or Rock Eagle Owl is one of the most beautiful owls found in Telangana. Their big, deep yellow to orange eyes are love at first sight for birders..