1178. Scops bakkamoena.
The Collared Scops Owl.
Otus bakkamoena, Pennant, Indian Zool. p. 3, pl. iii (1769); Newton, S. P. viii, p. 414. Strix indica, Gm. Syst. Nat. i, p. 289 (1788). Strix lempiji, Horsf. Tr. Linn. Soc. xiii, p. 140 (1821). Scops lettia, Hodgs. As. Res. xix, p. 176 (1830); Hume, N. & E. p. 67; Sharps, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 85; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 65; Inglis, S. F. v, p. 86; Oatss, S. F. vii, p. 45 ; Hume, ibid. p. 357 ; id. Cat. no. 75; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 232; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 155; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. in, p. 104; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 572 ; v, p. 558 ; vii, p. 375; Hume, xi,p. 22. Scops malabaricus, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xiii, pt. 2, p. 119 (1845); Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 94 (subsp.) ; Hume, S. F. vii, pp. 34, 361; id. Cat. no. 75 quat.; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 36; Butler, ibid. p. 377; Davison, S. F. x, p. 343; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 74; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 107. Scops griseus, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xiii, pt. 2, p. 119 (1845). Scops lettioides, Jerdon, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 182 (1845). Scops lempiji, Blyth, Cat. p. 30; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 38; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 91; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, pp. 35, 497 ; Hume, Cat. no. 75 quint.; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 147; Hume, S. F. x, p. 183; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 156; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, n. 107. Ephialtes lempiji, Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 71; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 138; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 256; Jerdon, Ibis, 1871, p. 347. Ephialtes lettia, Hume, Rough Notes, p. 393. Ephialtes griseus, Hume, t. c. p. 398; Anderson, P. Z. S. 1875, p. 26; Rainey, S. F. iii, p. 333. Ephialtes malabaricus, Hume, t. c. p. 402. Ephialtes jerdoni, Walden, A. M. N. H. (4) v, p. 417 (1870); id. Ibis, 1871, p. 112. Scops bakhamuna, Hume, N. & E. p. 69; id. S. F. v, p. 135; vii, p. 506; ix, p. 37 ; id. Cat. no. 75 ter; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 135; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 72 ; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 105; Davidson, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 179; Littledale, ibid. p. 196; Barnes, op. cit. iii, p. 222. Ephialtes bakhamuna, Holdsworth, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 417; Hume, Scops indicus, Butler, S. F. 'vii, p. 175; Hume ibid. pp. 201, 359 Scops bakkamoena, Reid, S. F. x, p. 16; Blanf. Ibis, 1894, p. 527.
The Large Scops Owl, Jerdon; Tharkavi choghad, H.; Lattya kusyal, Nepal; Pedda chitta guba, Tel.
Coloration. Lores sullied white, the longest black-tipped, rest of facial disk light brown or rufescent, generally banded darker; forehead, broad supercilia, and inner webs of the long aigrettes white or buff, speckled and barred with black; ruff white or bull, with dark brown edges ; crown and upper parts generally closely vermiculated and speckled with black on a buff ground, many feathers with black shaft-stripes more or less dentate and irregular, or even broken up, generally broadest on the crown and nape; a pale buff nuchal collar, formed by buff feathers with dark edges; large buff spots tipped with black on the outer scapulars, forming a distinct buff scapular band; quills brown, with paler mottled bands and tips, the bands as usual forming white or buff spots on the outer webs of the primaries, but becoming faint and indistinct on their inner webs, better marked on the secondaries, and running into buff indentations on the inner borders, as also on the primaries near the base; tail brown, with pale cross-bands, all the feathers more or less mottled, especially the middle pair and the outer webs and tips of the others; chin white or buff, throat (part of the ruff-feathers) buff with shafts, tips, and sometimes bars dark brown ; rest of lower surface white or buff, somewhat irregularly black-shafted, and much stippled with fine wavy crossbars more or less broken up; legs, vent, and under tail-coverts nearly or quite uniform white or buff.
Some birds are more rufous than others. Young birds are very indistinctly coloured, the prevalent markings being close, irregular, dusky cross-bars.
Bill horny (yellowish or greenish), darker above; irides varying from yellow to brown; cere dusky ; feet fleshy grey to greenish yellow. Tarsi stout, feathered to the base of the toes, the feathering sometimes in Himalayan birds concealing the junction of the middle and inner toe, but generally stopping just short of it. 4th quill usually longest, 5th subequal, 1st shorter than 10th.
Length of Himalayan birds about 10 inches; tail 3.25; wing 6.75 ; tarsus 1.25 ; bill from gape 1. South Indian, Ceylonese, and Malayan birds are considerably smaller : length about 8, wing 6.
Distribution. Throughout the Oriental Region. This Owl is found in all parts of India, Ceylon, and Burma, except in absolute deserts and in the higher Himalayas.
The Owls classed together in the present species were united by Blyth and, at one time, by Jerdon, but have since been divided into four by Hume. The four species are :—
Scops lettia, from the Himalayas, Assam, and Burma; large (wing 6.45-7.2), and " with the bases of the toes feathered."
S. lempiji, Burma, Malay Peninsula and Archipelago; smaller (wing 6-6.5), more rufous, " and with the bases of the toes exposed."
S. malabaricus, west coast of India and Ceylon; small (wing 5.5-6.1), colour more rufous.
S. bakkamcena v. griseus, throughout India, except the west coast; small (wing 5.6-6.6) and greyer.
The last two are united by Sharpe under the name of S. malabaricus, and made a subspecies of S. lempiji. Unless the grey and rufous phases of all Owls are to be regarded as distinct species, a proceeding which in this case would result in intermediate forms being more common than typical specimens, S. bakkamoena v. griseus and S. malabaricus must be regarded as varieties. The same remark applies to S. lempiji, which agrees in all respects with S. malabaricus. Blyth, it is true, at one time (Ibis, 1866, p. 256) thought that there were two forms (S. lettia and S. griseus), one with dark and the other (S. lempiji=malabaricus) with yellow irides, but Hume in his ' Rough Notes' showed that the Coloration was variable.
The smaller size of the Southern forms is according to the usual rule, and cannot be regarded as a specific distinction. The only remaining difference is that the feathering in S. lettia is said to extend farther down the toes. Occasionally in Himalayan and North Indian examples the feathers do certainly run a little way-down the middle and outer toes (such specimens may possibly be hybrids with the closely allied S. semitorques, inhabiting the same tracts), but the occurrence is exceptional, and in general the difference is the very trifling one shown in Sharpe's figures (Cat. B. M. p. 96) ; while an examination of the largo series in the British Museum has convinced me that even this difference is not constant, and that in very many cases Himalayan, Burmese, Malaccan, and S. Indian birds are precisely similar as regards the feathering at the base of the toes.
Habits, &c. This is the commonest species of Scops in India; it is resident throughout, and breeds in the plains from January to April, and somewhat later in the Himalayas. It usually lays 4 (sometimes 3 or 5) eggs in holes in trees, more or less lined with leaves and grass. The eggs are pure white, glossy, and very spherical as a rule, and measure about 1.25 by 1.05. This species is thoroughly nocturnal; its call-note, written by Hume woo-oo, is double, but the syllables almost run into one.