No. 75 QUATUOR. - : Ephialtes Malabaricus,* JERDON.
THE MALABAR SCOPS OWL.
The only specimens that I possess of this species I owe to Mr. H. R. P. Carter (who killed his at Coonoor) and Mr. Jenkyns, (who killed his on the Western Ghats).
As to the nidification of this species I know nothing; I have had eggs said to belong to E. Lempigi sent me from the Neilgherries, but the greatest confusion as to the nomenclature of this little group, has hitherto prevailed amongst Indian naturalists, and it has been customary in the south to call every thing not E. Pennatus, E. Lempigi; while in the north E. Gymnopodus has generally done duty as Pennatus, and every thing else has gone down as Lempigi.
It is impossible therefore to decide to what species the eggs sent may have belonged.
Whether E. Malabaricus, Jerdon, be really identical with E. Lempigi, Horsf. is a matter for future decision; Mr. Blyth, it will have been seen, considers that they are so, but I somewhat doubt the fact. The plumage is very similar, but Lempigi appears to be a much larger bird.
Strix Noctula (Reinw.) figured by Tem. Pl. Col. 99, from Java, is clearly identical with E. Lempigi, Horsf. Temminck gives the length at 9.75 English* inches, while a large female Malabaricus, from the Ghats measured only 8.4. Mr. Carter's obviously adult female was only 8.25.
Admitting the great similarity of the plumage, it appears to me, that the marked difference in size, would render the specific union of these two races, inhabiting widely different localities, very questionable, especially in a genus which in India and elsewhere varies locally so much.
Of course Temminck's dimensions may be excessive, (Bonaparte gives the wing as under 6 English inches) and I have no other measurements to refer to, but if the true Lempigi be from 9.5 to 9.75 in Length, it must I think be held to be distinct from E. Malabaricus.
Malabaricus extends to Ceylon; I have seen a specimen from Ceylon, undistinguishable from my Malabar and Neilgherry birds.
Besides the Indian Scops Owls already enumerated, Malayana and the Archipelago furnish, as Mr. Wallace tells us the following - :
E. Menadensis, Quoy; from Celebes and Flores.
E. Leucospila, Gray; from Batckian, Morty Island, Boru, Ternate and Celebes.
E. Sylvicola, Wallace, from Flores.
E. Magicus, Bon ; from Ceram and Amboyna.
E. Mantis* Bon; from the Malay Peninsular, Sumatra and Borneo.
I ought perhaps to have included in these notes E. Lempigi, Horsf., as two years ago, I was shown a Rangoon specimen apparently (I had not then examined this group) belonging to that species, but I am by no means sure of its occurrence (the bird I saw may have been Lettia) within our limits, or indeed north of the Straits, where, as also in Sumatra, Java and Borneo, it is common.
* EPHIALTES MALABARICUS.
DIMENSIONS. Females (two specimens only, measured in the flesh by Mr. H. R. P. Carter) Length, 8.0 to 8.24. Expanse 16.6, Wing, 5.95. The 4th primary the longest; the 1st 1.7 ; the 2nd 0.65 and the 3rd 0.15 shorter. Length of tail 2.75 ; exterior tail feathers 0.25 shorter than the central. Tarsus 1.05 to 1.08. Mid toe; 0.73 to 0.9; its claw, straight 0.32 to 0.35 ; hind toe, 0.35 to 0.43; its claw, straight 03 to 0.32 ; inner toe 0.68 to 0.76 ; its claw 0.36 to 0.42. Bill, straight, to edge of cere, 0.43 to 0.5; from gape, 0.8; width at gape 0.62 to 0.7; height at front, at margin of cere, 0.25 to 0.3. Length of cere, 0.35. Wings when closed reach nearly to end of tail. Lower tail coverts fall short of end of tail by about 1."
DESCRIPTION. Feet yellow. Irides dark yellow. Bill yellowish horny, darker above.
PLUMAGE. The full description of E. Griseus already given, renders any minute description of this species unnecessary.
Generally it may he said that only the point of the forehead and a narrow streak over the eye, is white; and these parts instead of being silvery white as in Griseus, are fulvous. Again the chin, throat, ruff feathers, breast, and abdomen, instead of being white or creamy white as in Griseus, are a rich buffy fawn. Altogether, the bird is a good deal smaller, and the lower parts conspicuously more buffy than in any specimen of E. Griseus.
* I. e. nine inches two lines, French.