Dusky Horned Owl
The Dusky Horned Owl.
Strix coromanda Lath., Ind. Orn., i, p. 53 (1790) (Coromandel Coast). Bubo coromandus. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 286 (part).
Vernacular names. Gug (Sind).
Description. Whole plumage very pale grey, with shaft-lines of dark brown, broad and indistinct above, more narrow and sharply defined below, vermiculated everywhere with tiny broken wavy bars of light brown; on the lower surface the brown is less extensive and the white shows up much more; the edge of the ruff and the greater part of the aigrettes are darker unmottled brown: the face is whitish with dark shafts ; tail-feathers brown with white tips, the central feathers with broad bars of mottled brown and fulvous, the outer feathers with fulvous, less mottled bars; primaries dark brown, the outer with indistinct paler bars of mottled brown and fulvous, the inner with these bars much plainer.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow to deep yellow; bill greyish-white or pale lavender, the tip and culmen pale yellowish-horny; claws black (Hume).
Measurements. Wing 380 to 415 mm.; tail 205 to 210 mm.; tarsus 65 to 70 mm.; culmen 41 to 43 mm.
Distribution. The greater part of the Indian Peninsula. From Sind and the Punjab on the West to Western Bengal on the East; South it is found as far as Khandesh, Rajputana, Raipur, Mysore and the Carnatic. Specimens from Malacca and Arakan are far nearer Robinson's B. c. klossi from Siam and, until we get further material, must be placed with that race. A specimen said to have been obtained in Bengal seems to be a Malacca skin.
Nidification. The Dusky Horned Owl breeds throughout its range from late November until February, a few birds laying in March and early April. As a rule these Owls appropriate the deserted nest of some Eagle, but at other times construct their own nests or merely use the hollows between the branches of some big tree. They use the same site year after year and when they build their own nests they keep on adding sticks and lining to them so that they often assume huge dimensions. The eggs number two, occasionally one only, and forty average 59.3 x 48.2 mm.: maxima 62.4 x 49.0 and 58.1 x 49.2 mm.; minima 57.0 x 46.3 mm.
Habits. This Owl is almost as diurnal as crepuscular in its habits, feeding freely except during the brightest and hottest hours of the day. It frequents well-wooded areas where there is plenty of water and is not found in very arid or desert regions. They are fierce, vigorous birds and will tackle both animals and birds of some size but their principal food is crows, both the House-Crow and the Jungle-Crow. They also eat frogs, lizards, snakes and, occasionally, fish and, during other birds' breeding-seasons, are great egg thieves. Bell found two dead porcupines in the nest of a pair of these birds. Their call is a low, deep rumbling " woo-woo-woo" and they also have a call that is loud and piercing but seems to be very seldom uttered.