Ornithologists at the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary were elated as they were treated to the sight of the rufous-bellied hawk eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii) in the Vagavanam area. It is the only species in the genes which has been reported twice in South India by wild photographers Kiran Poonach from Coorg, Karnataka in 2008 and Nitin Srinivasa Moorthy from Nagarhole, Karnataka in 2014, as per the website of the Oriental Bird Club. The bird was captured from the sanctuary by wildlife photographer Girijan R.
The bird is distinguished with dark hood, white throat and breast with dark streaks on edges. It is associated with hill forests in the Western Ghats in addition to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and China. According to ornithologist R. Sugathan, it is mostly seen flying high over the forest canopy. They feed on small mammals, medium-sized birds and reptiles.
Most sightings of rufous-bellied hawk-eagle have been reported from Myanmar. The eagle has an upright stance and the wingtip extends near the tail. As per the Global Raptor Information Network, its population is on decline. It breeds during winter and the sexes are indistinguishable though the females are slightly large in size.
The extension of its habitat to the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is a good sign as isolated ornithological surveys had noticed the unexpected migratory birds in the sanctuary, which has rarely been considered a major habitat for both the migratory and resident birds.