What a Hoot !

The Indian Eagle Owl sighted by Coimbatore Nature Society recently near Coimbatore.  

A regular birding trip to Ponnuthu near Coimbatore became a special one for birders Balaji P.B, Sahitya, Sanjay Narayan and P.R. Selvaraj, president of Coimbatore Nature Society (CNS), when they spotted an Indian Eagle Owl. “It was thrilling to see a big bird, black and brown in colour, fly past us,” says Selvaraj.

Based on the span of the wing and the short tail, the team immediately recognised the bird as the elusive owl. “We followed the bird for 30 minutes. It kept hopping away and finally posed for us on a rock,” says Selvaraj. Sanjay Narayan managed to capture the owl on camera.

The Indian Eagle Owl is rarely sighted. This is the first time that it has been spotted here by CNS, which regularly bird watches across the city. This may be because it’s nocturnal, they say. It’s a good hunter and feeds on rodents. They also prey on other smaller birds like doves, pigeons and bulbuls.

The nesting season is November to April. The Indian Eagle Owl nests in natural recesses on the ground, on the ledge of cliffs, or under bushes. The bird reuses its nest site each year. The eggs hatch after about 33 days and the chicks are dependent on their parents for nearly six months.

The Indian Eagle Owl is considered the biggest of all owl species in India. It is also known as the rock eagle owl (Bubo bengalensis), and is found in rocky areas and scrub jungles. The birds are usually in pairs. However, here, the birders spotted a solitary one.

The CNS team draws the attention to the IUCN status which states Indian Eagle Owl as ‘Least concern’. However, the widespread destruction of natural habitats is a cause of worry. Owls are used in sacrifices in many cultures in some parts of the country and this has promoted illegal hunting and trading of owls. They now fetch astronomical prices in the grey market. This has led to hunting of owls in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 9:08:48 PM |

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