1660. Bubo bubo bengalensis

(1660) Bubo bubo bengalensis (Frankl.).
THE INDIAN GREAT HORNED OWL.
Bubo bubo bengalensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 414.
The extraordinary difference in the size of eggs laid by plains birds and, on the other hand, by birds of the hills points to the conclusion that there must be two races, a larger hill bird and a smaller plains bird. To prove this skins of more breeding specimens of these Owls are necessary, and so for the present I unite them all under the one name of bengalensis. If the hill bird is proved to be distinct it would bear the name of cavearius of Hodgson.
The Indian Horned Owl is found over practically the whole of Northern India, being found in the Himalayas commonly up to 5,000 feet and less often up to 8,000, whence it extends South to Khandesh, in the Bombay Presidency, the Deccan in the West, and to Orissa. East it is found in Assam, Manipur and North¬-West Burma (Arakan). It occurs in Sind and Rajputana, but is not common in the more desert countries.
This race of the Homed Owl often frequents comparatively open dry areas, without much in the way of trees and vegetation, but it is also found, though in smaller numbers, in damper well-wooded districts. Thus in Bihar it is very common, but in the adjoining and wetter province of Bengal much less so.
Unlike the other great Owls, which have so great a variety of breeding places, this bird is very constant to one type, almost, if not quite, invariably laying its eggs in small caves of some sort. When not making use of a cave the birds deposit their eggs on the ground under the shelter of a tree, bank or bush and sometimse without any shelter at all, while occasionally they make use of a deserted nest of a Vulture. Undoubtedly the favonrite situation is in a small cave or recess in the high clay banks of rivers and streams and, next to these, caves in the rocky banks of ravines. They are generally small and shallow, while often they consist merely of a rock overhanging the bank, and sometimes they are just ledges with no protection above. Marshall (G.), who found many nests,once saw eggs which had been deposited on bare level ground, but “on every other occasion on a ledge, in a perpendicular bank of a ravine, generally by the canal, and without exception on the left bank facing West.” This was in Saharanpore, but Hutton in the Doon, Cock at Dharamsala and Bingham at Delhi all give the same description of the nesting place. Davidson and Wenden, writing of the Deccan, say that it is common along all the brooks and rivers but that the caves selected were “facing all points of the compass.”
These Owls are very common in the Jamalpar Hills, and here the nesting sites selected are invariably ledges on, or caves in, the steep mud cliffs whence Ollenbach sent me many clutches of eggs.
The breeding season is from October to March or early April, in the hills most birds laying in February and March, while in the plains most lay in December and January. Betham took a clutch of five eggs near Poona on the 18th October, and I have seen a set taken in Kashmir on the 11th April, while Marshall obtained a fresh clutch as late as the 10th April in Saharanpore.
The full clutch of eggs is three to five and I have never seen more, but Davidson and Wenden saw six eggs and also six young in nests in the Deccan.
Forty Kashmir eggs average 58.1 x 46.0 mm. : maxima 61.2 x 47.9 and 60.0 x 49.9 mm. ; minima 54.1 x 44.8 mm. One hundred eggs from the plains average 53.6 x 43.8 mm. : maxima 57.2 x 45.0 and 54.0 x 45.2 mm. ; minima 49.0 x 42.0 and 51.0 x 40.2 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1660. Bubo bubo bengalensis
Spp Author: 
Frankl.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1660
Year: 
1934
Page No: 
511
Common name: 
Indian Great Horned Owl
M_ID: 
6570
M_CN: 
Indian Eagle-Owl
M_SN: 
Bubo bengalensis
Volume: 
Vol. 3
Term name: 
id: 
14827

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