The Brown Hawk Owl

One day at lunch, we were discussing about an owl, which is not seen here too often, just sharing information about its habitat and behaviour and one of our naturalists mentioned that this bird prefers to roost on dense canopy of tall trees. With that information in mind, we set out to find this bird. After an hour and a half of scanning every canopy we saw, we lost hope of finding this bird. Walking back silently to our quarters, I heard a crackle like sound coming from the canopy above us. I stopped and took a few steps back to see what had made this sound. Alas! Perched high up in the middle of a thick canopy, the Brown Hawk Owl was staring at us walk by. We were filled with excitement and we took our time observing it through our binoculars.

The brown hawk-owl (Ninox Scutulata), is distributed in the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, China and Hong Kong. These hawk-owl species are undergoing decline due to ecosystem degradation and conversion. These hawk-owls are polytypic species, they are a medium-sized hawk-owl, measuring 25 to 35 cm in length and weighing 170 to 220 grams.

The hawk-owl species have dark brown round head and the lack of ear tufts gives them hawk-like appearance. The facial disc is not distinct. There is a whitish patch on the forehead, they have brownish upperparts and a long-barred tail. The underparts of the hawk-owl are whitish with bold reddish-brown streaks and blotches and the under-tail is pale grey with darker bars and coverts are white. The bill is small and pale grey, the irises are bright yellow and the legs and feet are yellowish. The call of these hawk-owl species is a repeated mellow, hooting “whoo-wup..whoo wup”sound.

This was one of our successful walks, where we found exactly what we were looking for. I’ve only come across this bird one more time, a brief sighting as it few over my head and disappeared into the thick foliage.


Ratik Sharma , Naturalist Singinawa Jungle Lodge

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