Encounter with the Indian Scops Owl

On an autumn evening strolling around our quarters, looking for caterpillars, I came across two dark
round-ish figures in the thickets of the tall bamboos next to our rooms. The figures looked almost
like an owlet but I wasn’t sure. I ran back to my room to grab my binoculars and investigate it
further. Through the binoculars I saw that the bird’s back was facing me, as I waited longer one of
them turned around, which is when I saw it’s pointed ears, dark beady eyes and with markings like a
collar. It was an Indian Scops Owl. I was extremely thrilled as I had not seen this owl in such close
proximity. The pair was roosting here and even though this was one of our daily routes, none of us
had laid eyes on them before. In that excitement I went to call the other naturalists and we took
some images of this bird for our records. This owl roosts through the day and is mainly seen active at

The Indian scops owl (Otus bakkamoena) is a small nocturnal bird and is one of the largest
scops owls, with a wingspan around 60 cm. There are grey and rufous morphs. The upper parts are
grey or reddish brown with scattered faint yellow-ish brown spotting. The underparts are grey or
buff with scattered fine darker vertical streaking. The facial disc is whitish or pale buff. The eyes are
large with orange or brown colour. There is a dark neck band. The bill is grey and there are bristles
around the base of the bill. Their call is a soft single note “whuk” sound.

These species inhabit submontane forests, temperate forests, foothill forests, subtropical or tropical
mangrove forests, dense evergreen primary and secondary forests and hillside forests. They also
inhabit thick plantations near towns and cultivated areas and gardens, orchards and parks with
dense shade giving trees. The diet of these owl species is primarily large insects like beetles,
grasshoppers, cicadas and moths. The also feed on small rodents, small birds, lizards and frogs.
Now every time I walk along this path in day, I get to see this pair of owls, perched on different spots
in the same clump of bamboos

Ratik Sharma , Naturalist Singinawa Jungle Lodge

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