Ketupa ceylonensis

Ketupa ceylonensis, Gmel.

72. :- Jerdon's Birds of India. Vol. I, p. 133 ; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 92 ; Butler, Deccan and South Mahratta Country; Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 376 ; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 379.


Amrai ka Ghugu. Hin.

Length, 21 to 22 ; expanse, 54 to 56 ; wing, 15 to 15.75 ; tail, 7.6 to 8 ; tarsus, 2.8 to 3.1; bill from gape, 2.

Length, 22 to 23.5 ; expanse, 56 to 59 ; wing, 16.5 to 18; tail, 7.8 to 8.5; tarsus, 2.8 to 3.25; bill from gape, 2.1.

Bill greenish-dingy; point of upper mandible blackish -horny; of the lower mandible yellowish; irides bright yellow; cere greenish-grey; legs and feet partly feathered, bare parts dingy greenish-grey, sometimes plumbeous; claws bluish-grey at the base, horny black at tip, mid-claw with two sharp edges developed one on the inner side, and one beneath.

Lores with a huge patch of bristle-like feathers, with greatly elongated bare black shafts, overhanging the commissure, and meeting over the base of the cere, some of them almost, if not quite, as long as the bill itself; the whole of the forehead, top and back of the head, are a somewhat pale pinkish-brown, each feather centred darker; the feathers above the ear-coverts on each side, behind the eye, lengthened so as to form aigrettes or ear-tufts, from an inch and a half to two inches in length; the feathers of the back of the neck are often of a somewhat darker shade, more broadly shafted with a still darker brown, and most of the feathers with a trace of wavy mottling, or obscure bars, especially towards the tips on the lighter-brown portion; upper back and scapulars much the same hue, and dark, centred in the same manner as the feathers of the back of the neck, but most of the exterior feathers of the scapulars, where they overhang the lesser wing-coverts, with nearly the whole outer webs White, and the lighter brown of the scapulars, and in a less degree of the feathers of the upper back, very much mottled and variegated with tiny wavy lines, and small irregular blotches of fulvous-white; lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts much the same hue as the upper back, but with only a central" line" of dark-brown, and very feebly mottled with fulvous-white; all the lesser wing-coverts, the same brown as the upper back, with similar broad dark brown centres with a few spots of fulvous white on some of the longest; the median-coverts mostly dark-brown towards the shafts, and on the inner webs, with one or two well-marked spots of white or fulvous-white on the latter and the outer webs mostly white or fulvous-white, freckled or mottled with paler brown; the winglet and primary-coverts chiefly dark-brown, with two or more imperfect transverse, bars of fulvous-white or paler brown; the greater-coverts of. the secondaries much the same as the preceding, but the outer webs much tinged with pale fulvous-brown, and there is more white and more mottling about them than the preceding ; the primaries are dark-brown, tipped with fulvous-white, and with four or five 1/4 to 3/4 inch transverse bars of white, fulvous, or rufescent white, on the outer, and pale brown across the inner webs; the secondaries have much the same character as the primaries, but the bars are closer and larger in proportion, and are more conspicuously mottled, and as a whole generally appear to have more white upon them than the primaries ; the tertiaries and their, coverts, like the greater-coverts of the secondaries, are a paler and more fulvous-brown, and much marked with imperfect bars or blotches of fulvous-white, mottled with brown; the tail-feathers are dark, somewhat umber-brown, tipped with rufous or fulvous-white, and with three or four comparatively narrow transverse bars of the same hue; most of the bars showing marks of faint mottling with a darker color; under the eyes and ear-coverts is a conspicuous patch of elongated, bristle-like feathers, with elongated, bare, black, pointed shafts, which curl up round, and are nearly as long as the lower mandible; the feathers of the rest of the chin, and a patch on the throat immediately below it, pure white, with, towards the tips, a dark-brown central streak, and three or four narrow, wavy bars of reddish-brown; the feathers on each side of this patch on the sides and front of the neck, breast, abdomen and flanks, a somewhat rufous or pinkish-brown, each feather with a narrow well-defined central streak of very dark-brown, and closely barred. throughout its whole length on both webs, with narrow, transverse, wavy bars of a somewhat darker-brown than the ground color, though much lighter than the central streaks; thigh-coverts and vent-feathers uniform fulvous, streaked and barred like the body feathers ; the bars are closer and more numerous on the breast, and the general tint is more vivacious, and the reverse of this on the flanks and lower tail-coverts ; the wing-lining somewhat similar to the body feathers, but much less narrowly banded, and altogether lighter; the greater lower-coverts, however, of the primaries are pure white, broadly tipped with blackish-brown ; lower surface of the quills glossy-brown, darkest on the primaries, tipped with greyish white and with three or four transverse bars of greyish-white, growing yellower as they approach the bases, where the. inner webs are mostly yellowish-white.

The Brown Fish Owl is found throughout Sind, but has not vet been recorded from Guzerat, neither did I meet with it in Rajputana or Central India. It reappears in the Deccan and South Mahratta Country, but is nowhere numerically common. It is a permanent resident where found, breeding from December to March. It is by no means choice in the selection of a site for a nest. A cavity in an old tree, a cleft in a rock overhanging a stream, a broad shelf on the clayey cliff of some river, or even an old nest of the Fishing Eagle, are all at times made use of by this very accommodating bird. The nest is seldom well made; a few sticks mingled with feathers, if on a cliff; or merely a few dead leaves and feathers if in a hole of a tree; but, when they appropriate an old nest of a Fishing Eagle, they generally line it carefully with grass, fine twigs, and feathers; the eggs, two in number, are broad perfect ovals in shape, and are white in color; the shell close grained and pitted all over but still more or less glossy. They average 2'3 inches in length by about 1.88 in breadth.

Handbook to the Birds of the Bombay Presidency
Barnes, Henry Edwin. Handbook to the birds of the Bombay Presidency, 1885.
Title in Book: 
Ketupa ceylonensis
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Barnes, H. Edwin
Page No: 
Common name: 
Brown Fish Owl
Brown Fish Owl
Ketupa zeylonensis
Term name: 

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