Eagle Feeding in Langkawi
You will sea eagles in many places around Langkawi. After all the name of the island has been given after the reddish brown eagle. Helang in Malay means Eagle and Kawi is reddish brown color. The reddish brown eagles (also known as Brahminy Kites) are the most common form of eagles that you will find here. You will also see many White Bellied Sea Eagles in Langkawi as well which are larger in size.
The main feeding areas of the reddish brown eagles (as well as white belly eagles) is at the Kilim River area at the north eastern end which is part of the Kilim Geopark (you get there by a boat from Kilim jetty) and also the water area near the island Pulau Singa Besar located just south of the main island (this is shown during the Island Hopping tour by boat that starts from Teluk Baru jetty at Pantai Tengah).
Eagles hovering in the sky waiting for food
Photo: jetsun, cc by-sa 3.0
It is a spectacular sight where large number of eagles circle the sky and dive into the river to catch their food. You will watch this for about 20 minutes while sitting in the boat. When you reach the calm water area surrounded by dense forests, the boatman shuts down the engine to eliminate the noise, goes to the backside of the boat with a bag full of chicken skins and starts throwing the pieces into the water.
The eagles here seem to know whenever a boat is around they would have a feast on offering. Look at the sky and you will see many eagles circling. And then they will start swooping down to catch their food floating on the water and take off in split seconds. Watch them carefully... as soon as they grab the chicken skins with their claws, they start eating it on the flight itself leaving no chance for their competitors to take share.
Red-Brown Eagle Feeding, Langkawi
Photo: Ahmad Naufal, flickr, cc by 2.0
The eagles have terrific eyesight and can actually pin point a target such as a fish from a distance of 1 - 3 kms. When they dive, they can move at a speed of 200 kms per hour and pick up a prey which may be up to 6 lbs, more than their own weight.
While feeding, at any point of time you will see 30-40 eagles hovering in the sky and swooping down as soon as they identify their targets. Eagle population in the Kilim Geopark has been steadily in the rise. There are now over 500 wild eagles in this area. In Pulau Singa Besar, about 300 to 400 eagles feed in the morning.
White Bellied Sea Eagle (in front), Langkawi
Photo: amrufm, flickr, cc by 2.0
Most of these eagles have got used to the engine sound of the boats. In fact the revving of the motor probably acts an appetizer for them. However, January to March is probably not the right time to come here for watching eagle feeding because that is the time for the eagles to nest and breed.
While the sight of eagle feeding looks spectacular, it may not be to the best interest of the eagles' health, as skins of commercial farmed chickens are fed to them. If you are sensitive to this, then you should take an Eco Tour organized by environmentally friendly tour operators.
How to see Eagle Feeding
There are two ways you can see Eagle feeding in Langkawi:
Alternatively you can take a boat from the Kilim Jetty
and reach the feeding area in about 10 minutes from the jetty. The boatman or the guide needs to carry a bag full of food for the eagles. The feeding takes place in a calm water area which is protected by islands like Pulau Anak Kilim, Pulau Tanggkok and also by the dense mangrove forests along the banks.
Map location of Kilim river where Eagle feeding is done
Ruby (September 2015)
What if I only want to see eagle feeding and don't want to take any other tour or packages...what do I do?
Raj (langkawi-insight.com) September 2015
You can charter a boat from Kilim jetty or from Teluk Baru Jetty in Pantai Tengah and go to witness Eagle feeding.