Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spotted Owlet (Athene brama)

These are one of the quieter denizens of our Garden. I noticed one pair nesting in a hollow of a huge tree and every morning scraps of their evening meal comprising of lizards, toads, frogs etc would lying at the base. Our dog would go there immediately in the morning to pick up these scraps and it would all end in me chasing her to make her let go of them.

Often their hooting would shock us out of our reverie in the early winter dusk. It was only later that I realised that we had atleast 5-6 pairs nesting in and around our bungalow. During the nesting period one of the parents would be in the nest and the other would sit patiently in a nearby tree. Come rain or sunshine one of the pair would be at vigil. It was a god sent opportunity for me to photograph them at very close range as they were very still for long periods of time. The only other birds that seem to bother them were the Rufous Treepies and the Indian Rollers. The owls would be very agitated whenever these birds approached their nesting site and a furious battle of screeching and hooting would ensue followed by the intruders taking flight.

While they are considered inauspicious in many places I was glad to have them as they kept the rodent population in check. 

As I write this, the nesting period is long over. The nest in the tree hollow has been occupied by a pair of grey headed starlings. I am sure the other nests would also be having new occupants by now.

Just a couple weeks back I was pleasantly surprised to see groups of juvenile spotted owlets flitting around our trees. It seems that the next generation is here and hopefully the nests will again be successfully occupied the coming year.

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