1158. Syrnium nivicola.
The Himalayan Wood-Owl.
Mesomorpha nivicola, Hodgs, in Grays Zool. Misc. p. 82 (descr. nulla). Syrnium nivicolum, Hodgs., Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, pp. 185, 550 (1845); xv, p. 9; xvi, p. 464; id. Cat. p. 41; Horsf. & M, Cat. i, p. 84; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 124; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 16; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 359; Jerdon, Pais, 1871, p. 345; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. ii, p. 250; Hume, Cat. no. 66; id. S. F. ix, p. 37 ; C. H. T. Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 407.
Kashi-op tak-pum, Lepcha ; Uko, Bhot.
Coloration. Loral feathers white or fulvous, with black bristly ends; facial disk greyish or fulvous, white-shafted, indistinctly barred with brown; a white or fulvous supercilium; ruff indistinct, dark brown, more or less banded and spotted with white or fulvous ; middle of crown dark brown, uniform in old birds; upper parts dark brown, vermiculated and speckled with whitish or fulvous, with larger whitish or buff markings on the hind-neck, and large white or buff spots on the outer webs of the scapulars and of the median primary wing-coverts; quills brown, with mottled tips and broad whitish bars, more or less mottled, interrupted at the shafts, and closer together on the secondaries; tail-feathers brown, mottled at the tips and sometimes on the outer edges, and all with pale mottled or clouded cross-bands; lower parts white or yellowish fulvous, pure in the middle of the throat, elsewhere broken up by dark brown shaft-stripes and cross-bands, closer together on the chin and breast; feathers on legs and toes with brown markings forming irregular bars.
Young birds are somewhat indistinctly barred with brown and fulvous almost throughout.
Bill pale fleshy yellow; cere brown, ill-marked; irides dark brown; ends of toes dull plumbeous, claws brown (Hums).
Length about 17; tail 7; wing 12; tarsus 2; bill from gape 1.35.
Distribution. Throughout the Himalayas from Murree to Sikhim, and probably farther east at considerable elevations, 6000-14,000 feet. This Owl is also found in China. Birds from Sikhim and Nepal are always fulvous and rufescent, those from the N. W. Himalayas greyish, the difference far exceeding that between S. newarense and S. indrani, and very like that between Caprimulgus europaeus and C. unwini.
Habits, &c. Very little known. The cry, according to Davison, is a double hoot. The nest and eggs have not been observed, but probably resemble those of the allied European species S. aluco, the Tawny Owl, which lays 3 or 4 eggs in the hollow of a tree, or sometimes amongst rocks or, in an old rook's nest. Another allied form is S. davidi from Moupin (Sharpe, Ibis, 1875, p. 256).