1170. Huhua nepalensis.
The Forest Eagle-Owl.
Bubo nipalensis, Hodgson, As. lies, xix, p. 172 (1836); Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 37 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 30; Hume, Cat. no. 71; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 231; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 131; Davison, S. F. x, p. 343; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 152; Hume, S. F. xi. p. 20. Huhua nipalensis, Hodgson, J. A. S. B. vi, p. 362; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 131; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 254; 1872, p. 89; Beavan, P. Z. S. 1868, p. 400; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 378; Jerdon, Ibis, 1871, p. 346; Hume, S. F. i. p. 431; Blanford, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 154; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 65; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S.B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 68; xlvii, pt. 2, p. 12; Gurney & Fitzgerald, Ibis, 1878, p. 119; Gurney, P. Z. S. 1884, p. 558, pl. Iii. Huhua pectoralis, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 89, pl. i; Holds-worth, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 416. Bubo orientalis, Blyth, Cat. p. 34; Sclater, P. Z. S. 1878, p. 790; nec Strix orientalis, Horsf. Ptiloskelos amherstii, Tickell, J. A. S. B. xxviii, p. 448 (1859).
Huhu, Huhu Chil, Nepal; Migdori, Bhot.; Uman, Malayalim; Loho, Bakamuna, Cing.; Peria-anda, Tam. (Ceylon).
Coloration. Lores, cheeks, and ear-coverts greyish or brownish white, shafts and tips of lores and ear-coverts blackish brown; long-pointed aigrettes blackish brown, the inner webs or sometimes the whole barred with white or buff; upper plumage throughout dark brown, the feathers barred, edged, and mottled with buff, least, and frequently not at all, on the crown, back, and smaller wing-coverts, most on the neck, scapulars, and larger wing-coverts ; sides of neck, outer scapulars, and upper tail-coverts buff, barred with brown, the scapulars forming a distinct buff band on each side; quills and tail-feathers dark brown, with pale bars and tips, more distinct on the secondaries than on the primaries, the pale bars on the inner webs near the base, except on the middle pair of tail-feathers, very broad and nearly or quite white; lower plumage white, often tinged fulvous, the feathers broadly barred with dark brown, the subterminal bar on each feather forming a crescentic or heart-shaped spot.
Young birds are white or buff, with crescentic dark brown bars on all feathers of both the upper and lower surface ; the quills and tail-feathers as in adults. Even after a change of plumage (by a moult) the aigrettes are barred throughout at first and the dosral feathers have more buffy bars and markings than those of older birds.
Bill yellow; irides brown; toes yellow; claws dusky at the end, pale at base.
Length about 24 inches (21-5-27); tail 9; wing 17 (15.3-19) ; tarsus 2.75; bill from gape 2. Females are generally larger than males and Himalayan birds than those from Southern India and Ceylon.
Distribution. This Owl is found in the forests of the Himalayas as far west as Kumaun, and probably farther, at elevations not exceeding 7000 feet, also in the hill-forests of the Nilgiris and Malabar and in the higher parts of Ceylon. To the eastward it has been obtained in the Assam hills, and in Burma near Toungngoo, in Karennee, and from Bilugyun Island opposite Moulmein. There can now be no question that Jerdon's Huhua pectoralis, from Malabar, is the same bird, as Davison found the present species on the Nilgiris. The description by Tickell of Ptiloskelos amherslii appears to me to agree better with the young of this bird than with that of B. orientalis, and Blyth (Ibis, 1872, p. 89), who saw Tickell's original specimen, identified it with B. nepalensis without hesitation.
Habits, &c A forest bird, shy and seldom seen. Very little is known of its food, though from its size and powerful claws it probably lives on birds or mammals, and it is said to kill pheasants, hares, young deer, &c. It is somewhat diurnal in its habits, and I heard one calling and saw it shot about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The call is, as described by Jerdon, " a low deep and far-sounding, moaning hoot." The nidification is unknown.