1157. Asio accipitrinus.
The Short-eared Owl.
Strix accipitrina, Pall. Reis. Buss. Reichs, i, p. 455 (1771). Strix brachyotos, Forster, Phil. Trans, lxii, p. 384 (1772). Asio brachyotus, Blyth, Cat. p. 35; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 425. Otus brachyotus, Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 79; Jerdon, B. I. i. p. 126; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 364; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1872, 81; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 449; v, p. 226; Hume & Bourd. S. F. iv, p. 372. Aegolius brachyotus, Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 66. Asio accipitrinus, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 234; Wardl. Ramsay, Ibis, 1877, p. 454; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 30; Davidson & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 75; Hume, ibid. p. 162; Butler, ibid. p. 180; ix,p. 376; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 200; Cripps, ibid. p. 253; Hume, Cat. no. 68; Davison, S. F. x, p. 343; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 45; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 163; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 64; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 20.
Coloration. Facial disk white, more or less tinged with tawny buff, especially behind the eye ; orbital feathers and tips of loral shafts black; ruff rich buff, streaked and speckled with dark brown; upper plumage throughout buff, broadly streaked with dark brown, the colours somewhat intermixed and mottled on the scapulars, tertiaries, and wing-coverts ; some large buff or white spots on the scapulars, greater and median coverts; primaries buff, with the tips and two or three irregular cross-bands near the end dark brown, the brown bands occurring higher on the outer than on the inner webs; secondaries banded buff and brown, basal portion of inner webs of all quills white ; tail banded tawny buff and dark brown ; the buff in the middle feathers mixed with brown; lower parts buff, longitudinally streaked with brown shaft-stripes, broadest on the breast, growing narrow behind and disappearing on the legs, lower abdomen, under tail-coverts, and under wing-coverts; a brown patch on the latter at the base of the primaries.
In some skins from North-western Indian and the desert, the parts usually buff are nearly white, especially the lower surface.
Bill and claws blackish ; irides deep yellow.
Length 15 ; tail 5.75; wing 12 ; tarsus 1.6 ; bill from gape 1.2.
Distribution. Almost world-wide except in high latitudes. A migratory bird, that may be found during the cold season in all parts of the empire in suitable localities; common in the grass-plains of Northern India, less common to the southward and, so far as is known, in Burma, and not hitherto recorded from Ceylon or Tenasserim.
Habits, &c. This Owl is usually in India found in long grass, and is often seen when grass-plains are beaten for game. Occasionally it haunts low bush or cultivation. It lives mainly on small mammals, which it hunts, chiefly by night, but sometimes by day. It flies well and strongly, and was formerly a favourite quarry for trained Falcons. It does not breed in India, but farther north lays about 4 eggs on the ground.