No. 61. Scelostrix Candida. TICKELL.
THE GRASS OWL.
I have never shot this bird myself, and can find no record of its nidification.
It doubtless breeds with us, and very possibly, in holes in the ground. Mr. R. Thompson says - :
" As I have frequently shot this bird in open grass lands, both in the hills and just outside of them, I have entered him here, as it is likely we may find his nest too. In the Dehra Dhoon years ago, I shot a young bird of this species, either I think late in March or in the beginning of April. Strange to say, the young bird was flushed out of the deserted hole of a fox-burrow.,,
I have nothing to add to Dr. Jerdon's description, except that the facial disk is at times strongly tinged with that peculiar pinkish or purplish hue, which many examples of the Australian S. Castanops exhibit.
As regards the distribution of this species, I doubt at present its occurring in Oudh, the North-West, Central Provinces, or the Punjaub, except within the belt of jungle and forest land lying near the base of the Himalayahs.
As for its supposed occurrence near Hodul, two gentlemen permanently resident in the immediate neighbourhood of that place, have repeatedly searched all the grass lands, in the vicinity, from the banks of the Jumna westward, for miles, without ever flushing any Owl, but the short eared, or as it is often called at home, the Woodcock Owl. (Otus Brachyotus). In the Bijnor and Moradabad Terai, I have seen it put up when I have been Tiger-shooting, but though I have beaten in my time probably thousands of miles of heavy grass, on the banks of the Jumna, Ganges, &c., for one sort of game or another, I never saw a single specimen of this Grass Owl in the plains proper, of Upper India. Moreover, I have never seen a specimen in any of the numerous collections made in those parts, that I have examined. However it may occur, but even if it does, it must be only as a straggler and very rarely.