Spotted Owlet

Spotted Owlet

(Athene brama)

(Athene brama indica at Phillaur Divisional Forest)

Size(20-21cm): It is very small that is why it is called Owlet not Owl.

(Spotted Owlet pair at Phillaur)

Area: All India except Middle and Higher Himalayas.

Habitat: Human inhabitation, forests, gardens, parks, cultivation and dry lands.


My two words: It is a common, white and brown Owl. The upperparts are grey-brown with thick white spotting. The head is pale brown with fine white spots. The underparts are white with brown streaking. The neck and supercilium are also white. The iris is pure yellow.

The race A. b. indica is paler all over.

Solitary or in pairs or sometimes even in small groups. 

They are nocturnal, although they are often seen during the daytime. Trees with a hole are their favorite roosting sites. They are mainly seen when disturbed by other birds or during flight. Not a difficult one to spot but at the same time, not an easy one.

When disturbed, they bob their heads up and down and stare at the intruder for a long time before flying away.

(They sate the intruder for a long time sometimes with tilted heads)

Food mainly includes small insects, small vertebrates like mice, sometimes toads. I have seen it feed on a Red-wattled Lapwing chick at my residence.

(Spotted Owlet near its hole)

3-4 eggs are laid in the hole. after hatching, only 1-2 birds fledge and leave the nest. the young ones are fed on small insects for the first few days of their life and slowly they take upto small vertebrates. 

(Two juvenile Spotted Owlets at Phillaur)

Their call is a loud and harsh chirurr…chirurr…chirurr which is heard mostly during sunrise or sunset.

(Spotted Owlet at Harike Wetlands)

They are quite common and are often overseen by people due to its body coloration.

~Arjun Basandrai

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