The members of this genus are of small size, the wing rarely if ever exceeding 7 inches in length, and all are more or less spotted with white on the upper surface, never barred. The cere is swollen, and the nostril is a round orifice near the anterior margin. There is no distinct ruff, and the facial disk is scarcely recognizable. The wings are rounded, the 3rd quill generally longest (4th exceptionally), the 1st shorter than the 5th and not shorter than the 8th ; tail moderate; tarsus feathered; toes clad above with feathers or bristles.
I do not regard Heteroglaux as distinct. The wing is slightly more rounded and the nostril a little farther from the anterior border of the cere, but neither difference is of generic importance, and the plumage is precisely similar.
The genus Athene is found in the warmer temperate regions of the Old World, in India, and Upper Burma, Three species are Indian.
Key to the Species.
a. Abdomen transversely barred.
a1. Crown distinctly spotted; 1st quill longer than 7th ………………………A. brama, p. 301.
b1. Crown unspotted or indistinctly spotted; 1st quill = 8th ………………………A. blewitti, p. 303.
b. Abdomen longitudinally streaked ………………………A. bactriana, p. 303.
* The name Carine has been used by many ornithologists instead of Athene for this genus, because the name Athena was applied to a butterfly by Hubner in his ' Verzeichniss bekannter Schmetterlinge,' a work with 1816 on the titlepage. I am, however, assured by entomologists that Hubner's work was not really published until 1823 to 1824 ; consequently there appears no reason to reject Boie's peculiarly appropriate generic name for the owl of Minerva and its allies.