Spot-bellied eagle owl spotted in A.P.’s Seshachalam forest for the first time

The Hindu Bureau

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Thursday, 19th January 2023
Page No. 9
Delhi Print Edition

A wildlife team recently stumbled upon a spot-bellied eagle owl (Bubo Nipalensis) for the first time in the Seshachalam forest, and for the third time in Andhra Pradesh.

The bird’s habitat, found on large trees in thick forests, is spread across the Indian subcontinent. But it was sighted only twice in the State earlier, and both the times it was at Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR).

A team, comprising ornithologist K. Karthik Sai, wildlife photographer Gopi Lakkala and Bhakarapeta Forest Range Officer Dattatreya, spotted the bird on January 7 when it ventured into the Talakona forest area. The bold predatory bird, measuring 20-25 inches in length and weighing between 1.5 kg and 2 kg, feeds on small rodents and lizards.

“The bird makes a strange scream similar to humans and it is hence called the ‘ghost of the forest’ in India and ‘devil bird’ in Sri Lanka,” Mr. Karthik Sai told The Hindu.

The team also spotted a ‘Mottled wood owl’ (Strix Ocellata) last weekend in the fields abutting Chamala forest on the Tirupati-Annamayya inter-district border. Though both are labelled as ‘least concern’ in terms of population stability, the development assumes significance in view of their maiden sighting in the verdant Seshachalam ranges.

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