1161. Syrnium ocellatum.
The Molded Wood-Owl.
Syrnium ocellatum, Less. Rev. Zool. 1839, p. 289; Blanford, J. A S. B. xxxviii, pt. 2, p. 167 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 263; Butler, S. F. v, p. 208; vii, p. 179; ix, p. 376; Davidson & Wend. S. F. jn, p. 75; Ball, ib. p. 200; Hume, Cat. no. 65; Vidal, S F ix, p. 35; Reid, S. F. x, p. 14; Hume, ibid. p. 343; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 62; id. Journ. Bom. N. H. Soc. iii, p. 220; Littledale, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 195; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 115. Bulaca sinensis, apud Jerdon, Mad. Jour. L. S. x, p. 88; nec Lath. Syrnium sinense, apud Blyth, J. A. S. B. xi,p. 162; id. Cat. p. 40 ; Horsf & M: Cat. i, p. 82; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 123; iii, p. 870; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 207. Bulaca ocellata, Blyth, Ibis, 1865, p. 29; 1866, p. 253; King, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 213 ; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 353 ; id. N. & E. p. 61; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 80; Adam, S. F. i, p. 369; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 253.
Coloration. Loral feathers mixed black and white, a vertical ferruginous stripe behind the eye, remainder of facial disk greyish white, barred with dusky and white-shafted ; forehead and supercilia white with black bars; ruff chocolate-brown, narrow and inconspicuous ; feathers of upper parts ferruginous tawny except at the ends, those of the crown, nape, and sides of neck tipped black, spotted or barred with white, those of the rest of the upper surface finely mottled black and white, with broader wavy black bars and shaft-stripes; terminal portion of quills dark brown, with numerous broad pale clouded and mottled cross-bands and mottled tips, basal portion buff, sometimes with dark cross-bars; upper surface of outer web much mottled; middle tail-feathers mottled and with irregular cross-bands, buff towards the base, becoming dark near the end ; outer tail-feathers the same near the tip and on the outer web, but buff with dark bands inside towards the base; point of chin greyish white, the feathers very bristly, followed by dark brown buff feathers with white edges and chestnut at the base; middle of throat white; lower parts from throat white, tinged with ochreous buff, and with narrow blackish cross-bars, which are much closer together on the legs and toes.
Bill black; eyelids orange; irides dark brown; claws dusky; soles of the feet yellowish (Jerdon).
Length about 18.5; tail 8; wing 14; tarsus 2.25; bill from gape 1.6.
Distribution. Throughout the Peninsula of India as far south as the Carnatic and the base of the Nilgiris, at all events, but not in Ceylon. To the northward the range extends in places to the Sutlej, and perhaps to the Indus on the west, to the base of the Himalayas on the north, and to Lower Bengal on the east, but not beyond.
Habits, &c The Mottled Wood-Owl is chiefly found in well-wooded districts, but not in forests, and is especially partial to mango-topes and large trees about villages. It lives chiefly on small mammals, such as rats, mice, and squirrels, and its call is a loud harsh hoot. It breeds in the N.W. Provinces and Punjab in February and March, but in the Central Provinces from November till January, and lays usually 2 eggs, occasionally 3, in a cavity or hollow of some large tree, very often a mango, banyan, or peepul, there being little or no lining. According to Anderson it frequently builds a nest, but this is not confirmed by other observers. The eggs are very round ovals, white or slightly creamy, measuring about 1.99 by 1.67.