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June 21-June27, 2013

Indian Scops Owl by Amit Suchak

The Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) is a common, nocturnal resident of forests and other well-wooded areas of the Southern Asian region, from near eastern Arabia through the Indian Subcontinent, except the extreme north and northeast India and Southeast Asia.

The Scops Owl has small head tufts, a whitish or buff facial disc, brown or orange eyes, and a buff neckband. The upperparts are grey or brown, depending on the morph. The species is found in two morphs, greyish-brown and rufous. The rufous morph is usually more common in southern populations, and shows a distinct ochre tinge with faint buff spotting. The underparts are buff with fine, dark streaking. There is no sexual dimorphism.  The bird’s coloration merges with the dry, rotten trees, particularly the hollows. It is very difficult to spot the bird during the day. But its location is sometimes revealed by the mocking behavior of smaller birds threatened by its presence.

The Indian Scops Owl male gives a quiet, frog-like, interrogative “wuk?” or “whut?” call. This sound is uttered in regularly spaced series with pauses between each note. The female has a lower-pitched call. They also give an ascending, slow, bubbling “ackackackack…”.

Though small in size (23–25 cm) in comparison with other owls, it is one of the largest of the Scops owls. The wingspan is 61 cm –66 cm, and the owl weighs around 125-150 gms.

This owl feeds mainly on large insects such as beetles and grasshoppers. It also consumes moth larvae. It can occasionally take rodents and small birds, as well as lizards and, on rare occasions, bats.

It nests in a hole in a tree, laying 3–5 eggs.

This species is very similar to the slightly larger, partially migratory Collared Scops Owl Otus lettia and the Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia. They can be distinguished by call and eye colour.

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