1167. Bubo ignavus.
The Great Horned Owl or Eagle-Owl.
Strix bubo, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 131 (1766). Bubo ignavus, Forster, Syn. Cat. Brit. Birds, p. 3 (1817) ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 14; Hume, S. F. vii,p. 346; id. Cat. no. 68 ter; id. S. F. ix, p. 311 note ; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 425; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 154. Bubo maximus, Fleming, Brit. An. p. 57 (1828); Blyth, Cat. p. 34; Sclater, P. Z. S. 1860, p. 99; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 870; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 374; id. S. F. iii, p. 327; Scully, S. F. iv, p. 129. Strix turcomana, Eversm. Add. Pall. Zoog. p. 3 (1835). Strix sibirica, Licht. Susemihl, Abbild. Fog. Eur. pl. 44 (1846-52). Bubo hemachalana, Hume, S. F. i, p. 315 (1873). Bubo turcomanus, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 17 (B. ignavi subsp.); Hume, S. F. vii, p. 348 ; id. Cat. no. ? 68 quat.; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 45; Menzbier, Ibis, 1885, p. 262.
Coloration. Lores and anterior portion of cheeks white or pale fulvous, with black shafts; ear-coverts and hinder part of disk tawny, with indistinct brown cross-bars, the outermost disk-feathers sometimes black-tipped ; aigrettes black, the inner or both margins buff, especially towards the base; upper plumage black, varied and mottled with buff, there being broad black shaft-stripes on the head and neck, the broad buff edges of the neck-feathers less mottled with black than elsewhere; much buff on the outer scapulars ; upper tail-coverts tawny buff, with narrow wavy blackish cross-bars; primaries orange-buff, barred and tipped with dark brown; secondaries brown, with mottled buff bars, becoming entirely buff on the inner web and on both webs at the base; tail barred buff and dark brown, both colours mottled on the middle feathers. Chin and below the throat pure white, remainder of lower surface buff; the throat with black median stripes and crossbars, and the breast with broad black median stripes; abdomen and flanks with narrow dark brown shaft-lines and wavy cross-bars, the cross-bars alone remaining on the vent, legs, under tail-coverts, and wing-lining.
Typical B. ignavus, from Europe, has more black on the back and the middle tail-feathers, the pale cross-bars on the latter being very narrow; but there is a complete passage into the Asiatic B. turcomanus, with broad mottled buff edges to the back-feathers, and the buff or white cross-bars on the median rectrices as wide as the dark. Some Asiatic birds are very pale, especially beneath, others as rich an orange-buff as European skins; the difference depends probably on the bleaching action of the sun in dry open tracts. Both races have been brought from the Himalayas.
Bill dark slate-colour ; irides golden orange ; claws dusky at base, black at tips (Scully). The toes are completely covered and concealed above by feathers, which overhang the base of the claws.
Length of female about 26; tail 10; wing 19; tarsus 3 ; bill from gape 1.9. Males run a little smaller.
Distribution. Throughout the Palsearctic region. This noble Owl has occasionally been killed in Tibet and the higher Himalayas as far east as the Ganges (Bhagirati). Both Biddulph and Scully obtained it in Gilgit, and St. John at Quetta and Candahar.
Habits, &c. The Great Eagle-Owl is bold and powerful, living on game birds, hares, rabbits, and even fawns of deer, and especially, it is said, on crows. The call is a loud, deep, dissyllabic hoot. The eggs have not been taken in India; in Europe they are generally two or three in number, white, and rounded oval as usual, and are laid about March on a ledge of rock or in a hollow tree.