1168. Bubo bengalensis.
The Rock Horned Owl.
Otus bengalensis, Frankl. P. Z. S. 1831, p. 115. Bubo cavearius, Hodgs. As. Res. xix, p. 169 (1836). Urrua cavearia, Hodgs. J. A. S. B. vi, p. 372.Urrua bengalensis, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 87; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 128; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 450. Bubo bengalensis, Blyth, Cat. p. 35 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 73 ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 231; Hume, S. F. i. p. 163; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 25; Davidson Sr Wend. S. F. vii, p. 76; Ball, ibid. p. 200 ; Butler, ibid. p. 180; ix,p.376; Hume, Cta.no. 69; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 35; Reid, S. F. x, p. 14 ; Davison, ibid. p. 343; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 150; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 99; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 65 ; id. Journ. Bom. N. H. Soc. iii, p. 221. Ascalaphia bengalensis, Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 253; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 366; id. N. & F. p. 62; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 81; Hayes Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 405; Ball, S. F. ii, p. 381; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 65.
Ghughu, H.; Ghubad, Mahr.; Yerra gudla guba, Tel.; Kotang, Tam.
Coloration. Lores whitish with black shafts; cheeks and ear-coverts tawny with black streaks, and bordered behind by a black rim to the facial disk; aigrettes black, with buff margins towards the base; forehead buff, passing into the crown and nape, which are blackish brown, the feathers with buff spots on the edges; hind-neck and sides of neck nearly pure buff, with broad black shaft-stripes; rest of upper parts blackish brown, spotted and mottled 'with buff and white; the buff spots on the outer scapulars are very large, and the rump and upper tail-coverts are chiefly buff; primaries rich orange-buff, barred and tipped with brown; secondaries brown, with mottled buff bars, becoming entirely buff on the inner web and towards the base; tail barred buff and brown, both colours mottled on the middle feathers; chin and below the throat white, rest of lower surface buff; upper throat with fusiform black shafts ; breast with broad black stripes passing into the narrow dark shaft-lines and wavy cross-bars of the abdomen, shaft-lines disappearing and the cross-bars growing fainter or occasionally dying out on the legs, vent, and lower tail-coverts.
Bill horny black; irides orange-yellow; claws dusky (Hume).
Length 22; tail 8; wing 15.5 ; tarsus 3 ; bill from gape 1.7.
Distribution. The Rock Horned Owl is almost, if not entirely, confined to the Indian Peninsula, being one of the commonest Owls of Northern and Central India, except in desert tracts ; less common in the south, wanting in Ceylon. It is found, though not commonly, in Rajputana, Sind, and the Western Punjab, and has been reported to occur in Afghanistan; it inhabits Kashmir and the lower Himalayas to the westward, though not Nepal or Sikhim; it is very rare in Lower Bengal and apparently unknown to the eastward, though Blyth states that it occurs in Arrakan.
Habits, This fine Owl haunts rocky hills and ravines, alluvial cliffs, and brushwood, beside rivers and streams, and in flat country groves of trees. It is by no means exclusively nocturnal, and it lives on rats and mice, birds, lizards, snakes, crabs, and large insects. Its cry is a loud dissyllabic hoot. The breeding-season is from December to April, and from two to four white oval eggs are laid on a rocky ledge or in a cave, or on the ground under a bush or tuft of grass. The eggs measure about 2.1 by 1.73.