1164. Ketupa zeylonensis.
The Brown Fish-Owl.
Strix zeylonensis, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 287 (1788). Strix leschenaultii, Temm. Pl. Col. pl. 20 (1824). Strix dumeticola, Tickell, J. A. S. B. ii, p. 571 (1833). Strix hardwickii. Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool. ii, pi. 31 (1833-4). Cultrunguis nigripes, Hodgson, J. A. S. B. v, p. 304 (1836). Ketupa ceylonensis, Gray, Gen. B. i, p. 38; Blyth, Cat. p. 37; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 77; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 133; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 254; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 379; Hume, S. F. i, p. 431; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 4 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 66; Armstrong, S. F. iv, p. 300; Blanford, S. F. v, p. 245; Fairbank, ibid. p. 392; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, pp. 33, 497; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 201; Cripps, ibid. p. 255; Hume, Cat. no. 72; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 127; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 36; Butler, ibid. p. 376; Reid, S. F. x, p. 15 ; Davison, ibid. p. 343; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 148; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 96; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 68; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 21; Littledale, Journ. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 195.
Amrai ka ghughu, Ulu, H.; Bhutum, Beng.; Hudu, Assamese; Baka-muna, Cing.; Tee-dote, Burm.
Coloration. Lores white or fulvous, with black shafts; cheeks and ear-coverts the same, but more fulvous; upper plumage throughout rufescent brown to dull rufous, with broad black shaft-stripes ; lower back and rump with narrow shaft-lines; the scapulars and tertiaries much mottled, and the neck-feathers very often marked with close and subobsolete cross-bars; outer webs of outer scapulars white, and some white or buff spots on the larger and median wing-coverts; quills and tail-feathers dark brown, with paler mottled whity-brown bands and tips; throat white; remainder of lower parts whitish, narrowly and closely transversely barred with brownish rufous, each feather, including those of the throat, with a fusiform dark brown shaft-line ; larger under wing-coverts white, with dark brown ends.
Bill dusky yellow-green, dark brown on the culmen; cere pale dusky green ; iris bright yellow; legs dusky yellow (Oates).
Length about 22; tail 8; wing 16; tarsus 2.75; bill from gape 2.
Males are generally smaller than females, and Himalayan birds are considerably larger than those from Southern India, Ceylon, and Southern Burma.
Distribution. A common bird throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma in well-wooded tracts near the sea, rivers, or large pieces of water. This Owl is rare in the Himalayas, where it is replaced by the next species; but it has been found on the tops of the Nilgiri and Palni hills in Southern India. It is, of course, rare or wanting in the drier parts of Rajputana, the Punjab, Sind, &c; but I shot one by a stream in the Western Sind hills. It does not appear to range south of Tenasserim, though it occurs to the eastward in China and far to the west near Acre in Palestine. It has not yet been observed in Persia or Arabia.
Habits, &c. The Common Indian Fish-Owl generally passes the day in a thick tree, and wings its way at sunset to the water's edge to search for food. It lives chiefly on fish and crabs, but also kills birds and small mammals at times. It has a loud dismal cry, like haw, haw, haw, ho. It breeds from December to March, and lays usually two white broad oval eggs, measuring about 2.38 by 1.88, in a hollow tree, the deserted nest of a Fishing-Eagle, or occasionally on a ledge of rock, a small stick nest being made in the latter case.