Collared Scops Owl  

Ottus letia

A creature of the night, the Collared Scops owl is the largest among all the Scops owls. However, it is a rather small bird that is just over 25 cm that belongs to the larger categorization of typical owls.

It is a strictly nocturnal bird that can be seen roosting on the branches of thickly foliaged tress. When breeding the Collared Scops Owl lays 3 -5 eggs in tree hole within a forest or a heavily wooded area.  The bird is known to fall victim to the mobbing of other species who are larger.

The morphology of the species is highly unique with an assortment of colours complimenting various parts of its body. With dark brown eyes that cannot be missed and a dull yellow facial disk with markings that are a little darker, the bird is predominantly brown with spots and freckles in black. It is quite similar in appearance to other Scops owls who also have a similar geographical distribution pattern. Distinction between species is mainly achieve through calls that are known to be quite unique.

A carnivore like most other owls, its diet mainly consists of insects including beetles and grasshoppers. It occasionally feasts on lizards, mice and small birds. It mainly hunts in the night  and uses its claws to snatch its prey.

The owl species can been seen in most parts of South Asia including Nepal, Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Bangaldesh as well as across the Himalayas and south China. They are a partially migratory species and seek refuge in warmer parts of the region such as Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia during winter. In Sri Lanka, the bird can be seen even during the day at the Wilpattu National Park. Photographed above is a single owl perching in the vicinity of the Mahoora camp during a night walk. However, the species is also encountered during the day by bird watchers. Observing the species has to be done with great focus to locate it in the midst of darkness and thick vegetation.


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