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A common hawk - Shikra

India possesses a top rank in the case of bird diversity. Of the total 9700 species worldwide, India has about 1300. Of these 142 are endemic to our country. Kerala, one of the smallest of the Indian states, has about 500 species of which 16 are endemic to Western Ghats. All these 16 endemics can be seen in the forests of Kerala, an important travel spot for bird lovers.

Shikra is a common bird in Kerala wildlife. It is a hawk, Accipiter Badius, belonging to the Accipitridae family of Falconiformes order under the class Aves. One of the most common of our hawks, it is seen in open country as well as in forests. It is a raptor; a carnivorous bird which hunts its preys from bushes in a sudden flick without any notice of the preys. Its food consists of small birds, lizards, reptiles, and so on.

The Shikra is comparatively small, usually 26 to 30 centimetres long. Its wings are short but wide. It has a barred and lengthy tail. The upperparts are pale grey in colour and the underparts are reddish.

The Shikra is seen distributed widely through the forsts and open lands of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.