1160. Syrnium indrani.
The Brown Wood-Owl.
Strix indranee, Sykes, P. Z. S. 1832, p. 82. Ulula newarenis, Hodgson, As. Res. xix, p. 168 (1836). Bulaca newarensis, Hodgson, J. A. S. B. vi, p. 372; Blyth, Ms, 1866, p. 252; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 348; id. N. & E. p. 60; Blanford, S. F. v, p. 483. Bulaca monticola, Jerdon, Mad. Jour. L. S. xiii, p. 167 (1844). Syrnium newarense, Gray, Gen. B. i, p. 39, pl. 14; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 122; Stoliczka, J. A, S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 16; Jerdon, Ms, 1871, p. 344 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 281; Hume, Cat. no. 64; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 229; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1887, pp. 434, 471 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 19; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 116. Bulaca indranee, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xvi, p. 463; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 347. Syrnium indrani, Blyth, Cat. i, p. 40; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 83; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 121; Hume, S. F. i, p. 429; Legge, S. F. ii, p. 342; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 439; ix, p. 375; Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 67; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 282; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 253 ; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 27; Hume, Cat. no. 63; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 35; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 155, pl. v; Davison, S. F. x, p. 342; Taylor, ibid. p. 455 ; Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 407; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1887, p. 477; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 62. Syrnium ochrogenys, Hume, S. F. i, p. 431 (1873). Syrnium hodgsoni, Scully, S. F. viii, p. 231 (1879).
The Brown Wood-Owl, The Nepal Brown Wood-Owl, Jerdon; Bulaka, Nepal; Mik-dab-bru, Lepcha; Ulama, Cing.
Coloration. Bristly loral feathers mixed black and white; feathers around orbits black or blackish brown, passing into whitish, whity brown, brownish buff, or even orange-buff, more or less barred with dusky, on the facial disk, a white or whitish superciliary band continuous across the forehead; ruff proper and chin chocolate-brown, upper parts the same; crown and nape often much darker than the back. Scapulars and wing-coverts more or less barred paler, some of the outer scapulars white with narrow brown bars; rump and upper tail-coverts also barred with white or whitish in, some birds, and the back barred paler in young individuals; quills with pale cross-bars, not always corresponding on the two webs, much closer together on the secondaries; tail-feathers brown, with narrow pale brown or white bars and white tips; throat pure white; remainder of lower parts, except chin, white or fulvous, closely barred with dark brown, most closely on the legs and toes; the breast in some old birds (chiefly Himalayan) nearly or quite uniformly brown.
Young birds have broad whitish edges to the feathers, especially on the crown and nape ; all the upper parts are barred; the lower parts are white at first, and gradually assume the barring.
Bill greenish horny, bluish near base; cere plumbeous ; irides-deep brown (yellow irides have twice been recorded); ends of toes pale leaden; claws dusky plumbeous, paler at their bases. Toes-feathered above, except close to the claws.
Length of Himalayan birds about 21 inches, tail 8-9.5, wing 13.3 to 16.6, tarsus 2.3 to 2.75, bill from gape 1.45-1.6 ; length of South-Indian and Ceylon birds about 18.5, tail 6.5-8, wing 11.75-13.5. Males average less than females.
I do not think the Peninsular and Ceylon form, S. indrani, can be separated from the Himalayan S. newarense, except as a race or subspecies. The Southern race is considerably smaller, as usual, and the facial disk is as a rule distinctly ochreous, whilst in the Himalayan bird it is whitish; but the difference is not absolutely constant, as Hume has shown, and ochreous or rufous Coloration is a common form of variation in Owls. Very often, too, the superciliary band is less pure white, and the crown and nape are darker and paler in the Southern than in the Northern variety. Birds from the Assam hills and Burma resemble those from Southern India in colour. The Malaccan S. maingayi (Hume,-S. P. vi, p. 27) is rather more distinct, but only entitled, I think, to subspecific separation.
Distribution. Throughout the Himalayas from near the base to a considerable elevation (13,000 feet in Sikhim), also on the Western Ghats from Mahableshwar southward and throughout Ceylon. Blyth received a specimen from Goomsur, and there is one from the Shevroy hills in the Madras Museum. To the eastward this bird has been found in the hills south of Assam, in Manipur, and, very rarely, in Burma, a specimen from the Thoung-gyen valley, east of Moulmein, having recently been sent to me by Mr. Hauxwell, and I find another from the same neighbourhood, collected by Mr. Limborg, in the Tweeddale collection. Swinhoe obtained this species in Formosa.
Habits, &c. A forest bird, keeping much to the higher hill, ranges, except in Ceylon. The ordinary call is, according to Davison, a quadruple hoot; according to Legge a sound like to-whooo: the diabolical shrieks attributed to this species by Layard and others are probably produced by another Owl. Legge has given an excellent account of the bird in captivity. His captives devoured small birds, lizards, and fish with equal zest. The Owl grasped its food, just as a parrot does, in one foot, with the inner toe turned backwards, and after nibbling at various parts, as if to taste, jerked the whole headforemost into its mouth and swallowed it. Hume found a nest of sticks belonging to this species on June 6th, in a precipitous valley near Simla, placed on a rocky shelf, and containing three very young birds; and Mandelli obtained a white subspherical egg, measuring 2.07 by 1.76, from a female on March 6th. No more is known of the breeding.