1187. Ninox scutulata.
The Brown Hawk-Owl.
Strix scutulata, Raffl. Tr. Linn. Soc. xiii, p. 280 (1822). Strix hirsute, Temm. Pl. Col. p. 289 (1824). Strix lugubris, Tickell, J. A. S. B. ii, p. 572 (1833). Ninox nipalensis, Hodgs. Madr. Jour. L. S. v, p. 23, pl. 14 (1837); Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 08. Ninox scutulata, Blyth, Cat. p. 38; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 147; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 420; Jerdon, Ibis, 1871, p. 350; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1875, p. 27; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 156; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 67 ; Hume, S. F. iv, pp. 286, 373; Armstrong, ibid. p. 303; Tweeddale, Ibis, 1877, p. 287; Hume, Cat. no. 81 bis; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 145; Havison, S. F. x, p. 345; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 159; id. in Hume's N. & F. 2nd ed. iii, p. 111; Gurney, Ibis, 1884, p. 169; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 572 ; v, p. 558. Athene scutulata, Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 68; Layard, A. M. N. H. (2) xii, p. 106. Ninox hirsute, Holdsw. P. Z. S. 1872, p. 418; Hume, S. F. ii, p. 151; Ball, ibid. p. 383; Hume & Oates, S. F. iii, p. 40; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 254. Ninox lugubris, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 154; Anderson, Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 577; Davidson & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 76; Bali, ibid. p. 201; Cripps, ibid. pp. 253, 256; Hume, Cat. no. 81; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 42; Butler, ibid. p. 377 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 17 ; Barnes, Birds Bom, p. 77. Ninox burmanica, Hume, S. F. iv, p. 285; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 40; Hume, Cat. no. 81 ter; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 148; Hume, ibid. p. 245; Cripps, S. F. xi, p. 24. Ninox innominata, Hume, S. F. iv, p. 286; v, p. 16. Andaman Race. Ninox affinis, Tytler, Beavan, Ibis, 1867, p. 316; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 421; Walden, Ibis, 1874, p. 129, pl. v; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. if, p.. 155 ; Hume, S. F. ii, p. 152; iv, p. 286; vii, p. 364; id. Cat. no. 81 quat.; Gurney, Ibis, 1884, p. 170. Ninox hirsuta (Temm.), Ball, S. F. i, p. 54.
Choghad besra, H.; Kal pechak or pancha, Beng.; Moh chirai, Assamese ; Tang-kyi-per-chi-ok, Lepcha; Paint gante vestam, Tel.
Coloration. Lores and feathers on anterior portion of forehead white with black ends; upper parts with the sides of the head and neck chocolate-brown, varying in depth of tint, the head and neck very often greyer brown; some large concealed white patches or bars on the outer scapulars; quills brown, with pale bands that disappear near the ends of the primaries, but become white bars on the inner webs of the secondaries and on both webs of the tertiaries; the tail alternately barred with blackish and pale greyish brown and tipped whitish or white, the alternating bars subequal in breadth, and those of each colour about 5 (from 4 to 6) in number; ground-colour of lower parts white; the chin, throat, and upper breast with broad brown median stripes, which pass into large heart-shaped spots on the abdomen and flanks, and these sometimes assume the form of bars on the thigh-coverts; lower tail-coverts chiefly or wholly white; axillaries barred white and brown or buff and brown, or sometimes orange-buff throughout.
Bill bluish black; cere dull green; irides bright yellow; feet dull yellow ; claws horny brown.
Length about 12.5; tail 5.25; wing 8; tarsus 1; bill from gape .9.
There is much variation in size, Northern specimens as usual being larger than Southern. In Himalayan and Burmese birds the wings measure 8 to 8.75, in Ceylonese and Malaccan 7.5 to 8, in the little Andaman variety only 6.6 to 7.6.
As Hume has shown (S. F. iv, p. 285; ix, p. 42, &c), N. lugubris cannot be distinguished from N. scutulata. The former is rather paler, with a greyer head, and is found in India and Burma generally, chiefly in the less damp parts of the country; the latter, of a deeper more uniform brown colour above, occurs in Malabar, Ceylon, parts of Burma, &c, where the rainfall is heavier, iv. affinis, from the Andamans and Nicobars, is merely a small insular race, some supposed differences in colour, as Hume has also clearly shown, being individual.
Distribution. Throughout the Oriental region. This Owl is common in the well-wooded parts of India, rare in the tracts less furnished with trees, such as the Bombay Deccan, and parts of the North-west Provinces, wanting, except at Mount Abu, in Rajputana, Sind, and the Punjab. It has not been observed in the Himalayas beyond the lower forests, but it is generally distributed in Burma and Ceylon.
Habits, &c. The Brown Hawk-Owl keeps much to thick trees during the day; it is chiefly nocturnal, but is occasionally seen sitting on a stump or branch in the evening after sunset or in the morning. It lives chiefly on insects, which it not unfrequently captures in the air, but it also feeds on mice, lizards, &c. The call is said by Captain Legge to be a not unmelodious hoot, which he writes whoo-ivuk, and he doubts if this Owl utters cries like a strangling cat, or a hare when caught by hounds, as stated by Tickell, Buchanan Hamilton, and others. Mr. Reid, however, who wounded one, noticed that it cried like a hare. That peculiar strangled cries are not uncommon at night in the forests of India, I know from having heard them; I never succeeded in detecting the bird by which they are made, though I have no doubt it is an Owl. Very little is known of the breeding of N. scutulata, except that it rears its young in holes in trees without any lining, and lays nearly spherical white eggs.