1180. Athene brama.
The Spotted Owlet.
Strix brama, Temm. Pl. Col. pl. 68 (1823). Noctua indica, Frankl. P. Z. S. 1831, p. 115. Noctua tarayensis, Hodgs. As. Pes. xix, p. 175 (1836). Athene brama, Blyth, Cat. p. 39; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 65; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 141; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 257; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 404; id. N. & B. p. 69; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 94; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 231; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 81; Hume, S. F. i, p. 164; Adam, ibid. p. 369; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 450; Blanford, Eastern Persia, ii, p. 118; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 457 ; Hume & Inglis, S. F. v, p. 16. Athene pulchra, Hume, S. F. i, p. 469 (1873); Hume & Oates, S. F. iii, p. 39. Carine brama, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 138; Davidson & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 76; Ball, ibid. p. 201; Cripps, ibid. p. 256; Hume, Cat. no. 76; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 232; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 38; Butler, ib. p. 377; Swinhoe, Ibis, 1882, p. 100; Reid, S. F. x, p. 16; Davison, ibid. p. 344; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 75 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 108. Carine pulchra, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 140 (subsp.); Hume, Cat. no. 76 quat.; Anderson, Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 576; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 157 ; Sharpe, Yark. Miss., Aves, p. 151, pl. xxi.
Khukhusat, Khusattia, Ulu, Choghad (in the South), H.; Katoria Pencha, B.; Pingald, Mahr.; Dang Tang-pum, Lepcha; Paint gante, Tel. (gold eye) ; Andi, Tam.; Zee-gwet, Burm.
Coloration. Lores white or pale buff, with some black tips, a brown spot in front of the eye and a white or whitish one beneath it; ear-coverts barred brown and whitish; forehead and supercilia white; upper parts, wings, and tail uniform brown, varying from greyish or earthy to rufescent, the crown and nape with numerous small white spots ; remainder of the upper surface with larger and more distant white spots, arranged, as are those on the crown, in pairs, and occasionally becoming bars, especially on the scapulars ; the spots are often wanting on the upper back, and are largest on the wing-coverts ; an indistinct half-collar on the hind neck formed by white feathers with brown edges quills with pale cross-bars, becoming white spots on the outer web and, except near the tips of the primaries, white indentations on the inner border; tail with from 4 to 6 white cross-bars varying in breadth and continuity; chin, throat, and sides of neck behind ear-coverts white; a broad brown band, narrower or interrupted in the middle, across the throat; remainder of lower parts white, with broken brown cross-bars formed by subterminal bands and spots on the feathers ; these spots generally diminish in size or disappear on the lower abdomen, legs, and under tail-coverts.
Bill greenish horny; irides pale golden yellow; feet dirty greenish yellow (Jerdon). Cere dusky (Hume). Tarsi feathered ; toes clad with long bristles above.
Length 8 inches; tail 2.9; wing 6; tarsus 1.1; bill from gape .8.
Distribution. Throughout the Peninsula of India, from the Punjab, Baluchistan, and Sind to Assam and Cachar, and from the base of the Himalayas to the extreme South, but not in Ceylon, though this Owl was obtained by Hume on the island of Rames-waram. It is also common in the Irrawaddy valley from Prome upwards, and probably throughout the drier parts of Burma.
The Burmese form was separated by Hume as A. pulchra on account of smaller size, darker colour, and some supposed differences in the markings; but specimens from the west coast of India are equally small and dark, and the differences in markings are neither important nor constant.
Habits, &c. Owing to its semi-diurnal habits, its noisiness, and its fondness for human habitations, this is the best-known Owl in India. It does not as a rule ascend the hills, and it avoids forests; it keeps to trees in cultivated tracts, especially in gardens, and is commonly found roosting and breeding in the roofs of houses. It lives chiefly on insects, partly on mice, shrews, lizards, or small birds. Its usual call is a double note, but it keeps up a continual chatter at times, especially in the evening, often before sunset, always long before dusk, when it issues from its hiding-place to perch on a pole or fence or telegraph-wire. As Hume says, it is one of the birds that seem to think that telegraph-wires were erected for their sole and especial benefit. Its flight is undulating, but peculiar and easily recognized. This Owlet breeds from February to April, and lays 3 to 5 white oval eggs in holes in trees or a building, or in a cleft in a rock, scantily lined with leaves, grass, or feathers. The average size of the eggs is 1.25 by 1.04.