First Photographic Record of Long-eared Owl in India

Arpit Deomurari

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

With the number of birders and photographers going up in India, newer records are being added regularly, especially in rich and unique habitats like Kutch. Serious birders and photographers now act as citizen scientists, constantly adding to the scientific knowledge of birds, their behavior and their distributional range.

On 11th March 2012, while looking for the threatened Great Indian Bustards in Naliya grasslands in Kutch, Ramki Sreenivasan and I came across an owl which flew from one low tree to another. The owl was well camouflaged in dense foliage of an Acacia nilotica tree, but permitted a close approach.

The owl was brownish with streaks on its breast and belly. It had extremely long ear tufts, buff brown facial disk, black band down the face between the eye and white bordering bill, and bright orange eyes — perfectly suited for a wintering Long-eared Owl (Asio otus).

There have been sporadic reports of this bird but this is the first photographic record from India.

Note contributed by Arpit Deomurari who currently works as Deputy Manager – GIS and Remote Sensing in Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), Anand. Arpit is an expert on the birds of Gujarat with a keen interest in avian research specially distribution and environmental niche modeling, population dynamics of waders, breeding biology of gulls and terns. Arpit is also an accomplished wildlife photographer and his images have been published in many national and international publications.

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