1173. Scops giu

1173. Scops giu.

The Scops Owl.

Strix scops, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 132 (1766). Strix giu, Scop. Ann. i, p. 19 (1768). Strix zorca, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 289 (1788). Scops aldrovandi, Flem. Brit. An. p. 57 (1828); Blyth, Cat. p. 36. Scops sunia, Hodgs. As. Bes. xix, p. 175 (1836); Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 182 ; Jerdon, Ill. Ind. Orn. pl. 41; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii. p. 67; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 139; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 201; id. Cat. no. 74 bis ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 16 ; C. H. T. Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 408; Davidson, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 179. Scops pennatus, Hodgs. J. A. S. B. vi, p. 369 (descr. nulla); Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 183 (1845); Hume, N. E. p. 65; id. S. F. iii, p. 38 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 53 (subsp.); Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 34 ; Butler, S. F. vii, p. 180; ix, p. 376; Ball, S.F. vii, p. 201; Cripps, ibid. p. 255; Hume, Cat. no. 74 : Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 46 ; Scully, ibid. p. 426; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 147 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. x, p. 343; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 154 ; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 103; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 70; Littledale, Jour. Bom. N. II. Soc. i, p. 196; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 573; v, p. 557; vii, p. 375; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 21. Scop gymnopodus, Gray, Cat. Accip. B M. 1844,, p. 44 (descr, nulla); Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 65, pl. iv, fig. 2; Hume, Cat. Scops malayanus, Hay, Madr. Jour. L. S. xiii, pt. 2 p. 147 (1845); Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 58, pl. iv, fig. 1 (subsp.) ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 355; id. Cat. no. 74 sex. Ephialtes sunia, Horsf. &. M. Cat. i, p. 70; A. Anderson, S. F. iii, p. 388; id. P. Z. S.1875, p.25; 1876 p 781 Ephialtes pennatus, Jardon, B. I. i, p. 136; Hume, Rough Notes, p 386; id. S. F. ii, p. 151; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1875, p. 25. Ephialtes bakkamoena, apud Blyth, Ibis, 1863, p. 27 ; 1866, p. 255 ; Jerdon, His, 1871, p. 347 ; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 66; nec Otus bakkamoena, Penn. Ephialtes jerdoni, Walden, A. M. N. H. (4) v, p. 417 (1870); id. Ibis,1871,p. 112. Scops giu, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 47 ; Barnes, S. F. ix, p. 452 ; Blanf. Ibis, 1894, p. 528. Scops rufipennis, Sharpe (subsp.), Cat. B. M. ii, p. 60 (1875); Hume, S. F. vi, p. 34; vii, p. 350; id. Cat. ? no. 74 B. Ephialtes nicobaricus, Hume, S. F. iv,p. 283. Scops nicobaricus, Hume, Cat. no. 74 quat.; Gurney, Ibis, 1884 p. 172. Scops minutus, Legge, A. M. N. H. (5) i, p. 175 (1878); id. S. F. vii, p. 145; id. Birds Ceyl. p. 143, pl. iv ; Hume, Cat. no. 74 C.

The Indian Scops Owl, Jerdon ; Choghad ,kusial, Sunya kusial, Nepal ; Dundul, Chamba; Chitta guba, Yerra chitta guba, Tel.

Coloration. Lores white or pale grey with some black tips, rest of facial disk greyish white with indistinct brown bars ; ruff white or pale rufous tipped with black; whole upper plumage grey, more or less tinged with rufous, the feathers minutely speckled black and white, and generally with black median stripes, which vary much in definition; some feathers are stippled at the end, white or buff further down with black shaft-stripes and cross-bars, and the white or buff spots thus formed are conspicuous in some skins, almost wanting' in others ; outer scapulars white on the outer webs, with black ends and sometimes a black inner border to the white spots ; some white or buff spots on the wing-coverts; quills brown, with paler mottled bars and tips, the bars forming white or buff patches on the outer webs of several primaries and on the inner webs of all wing-feathers ; tail brown, much mottled with whitish on the middle feathers and outer edges of the others, all with narrow pale bars dark-edged; lower parts paler than the upper, closely stippled with dark brown or black on a white ground, and more or less tinged with buff or rufous, the feathers with blackish shaft-stripes, usually broadest on the breast, and small dark wavy cross-bars, broken up into minute dots towards the ends of the feathers.

Rufous phase (S. sunia). The upper parts are sometimes pale chestnut with some black shaft-stripes, especially on the bead, and with white black-tipped spots on the scapulars ; the lower surface varying, the usual markings generally remaining on the lower breast 'and abdomen. In one specimen from Camorta in the Nicobars, already described by Gurney as a form of S. nicobaricus, the whole lower surface is chestnut and the upper surface darker red than usual, but still traces of the normal markings remain on the wings and tail. In other skins the markings have disappeared on the rectrices, but are retained on the wing-feathers and. on the abdomen. Again, in others faint obsolete marks appear on the upper surface, and there is a complete gradation from these forms into the ordinary grey S. giu (S. pennatus). Moreover, chestnut varieties of all the local forms occur, of the small dark S. minutus of Ceylon and the larger dark S. malayanus of Malacca, as well as of the large S. pennatus of the Himalayas. It should be added that both Blyth and Jerdon unhesitatingly regarded S. sunia as a rufous phase of S. pennatus, though some later writers have thought differently.

Young birds are greyish brown, speckled throughout, and with indistinct cross-barring on both upper and lower surface.

Bill dusky greenish ; iris pale golden yellow; feet fleshy grey (Jerdon). Third quill longest. Toes and extreme end of tarsus bare of feathers.

Length about 7.5 ; tail 2.75 ; wing 5.75 ; tarsus .85; bill from gape .7. South Indian and Ceylon birds are smaller : wing 4.75 to 5.25.

In the present species no less than seven of the names of Hume's Catalogue are included, three of those names, however, being marked by Hume as doubtful and invalid. In Sharpe's Catalogue, S. pennatus and several other forms were classed as races or subspecies of the European Scops Owl, S. giu, and I think that this is a correct view. Some of the birds found in North-western India are typical S. giu, absolutely identical with grey European specimens. As a rule, however, the Indian form S. pennatus is slightly browner and darker and the aigrettes are generally rufous in part. A rufous form of S. giu occurs in Europe, but it never approaches the Indian S. sunia, which is a remarkable instance of a bird's assuming a rufous plumage locally. The following Indian named forms of S. giu besides S. pennatus and S. sunia require notice:—

Scops rufipennis is a small, rather uniformly-coloured bird from the Carnatic.

Scops gymnopodus was a name given by Mr. G. R. Gray to a skin in which the lower portions of both tarsi were naked. Dr. Sharpe tells me that, as no additional specimen has been found, he suspects the skin, which agrees with normal S. pennatus in plumage, had accidentally lost the feathers of the lower tarsus.

Scops nicobaricus was founded on a very dark rufous skin, but with the brown markings of the dorsal surface still conspicuous. There are in the Hume collection precisely similar specimens from the Malay Peninsula.

Scops malayanus is a dark brownish form from Malacca, differing from typical S. pennatus precisely as that does from the Western S. giu. Wing 5.35.

Scops minutus is the best marked of all these races and the smallest, It is from Ceylon, and resembles S. malayanus in its dark brownish colour. Wing about 4.8.

As in so many other cases, specimens from the South are smaller and darker, the smallest and darkest of all being the Ceylonese variety.

Distribution. Central and Southern Europe and Asia, and the greater part of Africa. One form or another of this bird is found in all parts of India, Ceylon, and Burma, except perhaps the higher Himalayas.

Habits, &c. This is a migratory species in Europe and probably to some extent in India. No nests appear to have been taken in the plains, but the small dark Southern forms certainly breed in the hills of Southern India and Ceylon, for there are nestlings from both localities in the British Museum, and Mr. Daly tells me he has taken the eggs on the Shevroys. There can be but little doubt that S. giu breeds in the Himalayas also, but it is doubtful whether the few supposed instances on record do not apply to another species. The habits are those of the genus; the call is a peculiar monotonous monosyllabic hoot, repeated at regular intervals, generally from a dense-foliaged tree.

The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.3 1895.
Title in Book: 
1173. Scops giu
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Scops Owl
Eurasian Scops Owl
Otus scops
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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