11 April 2011

Spotted Owlet - Athene Brama

The Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) is a small Owl common in the Tiruvannamalai district. Although It prefers open habitats including farmland and areas populated by people it has adapted to living in cities. Nests near human habitations may show higher breeding success due to increased availability of rodents for feeding young.

It’s a small stocky bird with upperparts grey-brown spotted with white and underparts white, streaked with brown. Its face is pale and eyes yellow. Its wings are spotted and banded white, and the tail has narrow white bars.

Although the Spotted Owlet is primarily active during twilight it sometimes can be seen by day. In fact several young Spotted Owlets are regular visitors in my neighbourhood and seem to particularly enjoy roosting on electricity poles outside my cottage.

Its voice is a harsh alternating between a variety of screeches and chuckles. It mainly preys on beetles, moths, earthworms, lizards, mice and small birds. Usually hunts from a perch, pouncing on prey, but occasionally takes insects in flight. Its flight is deeply undulating, consisting of a few rapid flaps followed by a glide with wings pressed to the body.

In the South, this bird breeds from November to March. Nests are in natural tree hollows, or in holes and cavities in human dwellings.

May also nest in cavities in the sides of ravines and earth cliffs when suitable trees are scarce. The nest is sometimes liked with grass and feathers.

It lays up to 5 white, roundish oval eggs with incubation beginning with the first egg thus causing considerable size difference within the brood. Only one or two chicks may fledge and they leave the nest in about 20 days

For an excellent selection of photographs, audios and videos of the Spotted Owlet, go to this link here.

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