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« on: October 28, 2012, 01:45:09 pm »

Indian Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum radiatum. "Breeding resident in the Low-Country Dry Zone and lower Hill Zone. Moderately plentiful, in small numbers, in the southern and eastern areas of the Dry Zone and ascends the Hills to altitudes of 3,500 feet. Breeds from April to August in the Eastern Province. K.G.H. Munidasa has observed in a tree near Muwangala in the Gal Oya Valley a pair mating in April (1966), May 15 (1965) and June 13 (1965) and young being fed in August (Ceylon Bird Club)"

Annotated checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (1978 revised edition)

February 22, 1964 - A pair of jungle owlets was mating on a dead branch at 5.30 pm. Prior to this they sat close to each other uttering a crooning note croo, croo, croo and their white cheeks puffed up rhythmically.

May 7 Mating was still in progress. The courting pair started to frequent a tree quite in the open on the bole of which was a large (dia. 8 ins.) natural cavity. Here they regularly perched on one of two branches, close to the cavity.

The pair of owlets was seen together in the morning. They were preening each others head and calling. As they called they lowered their heads on to the breast. I was sure they were nesting somewhere, nearby, but I could not find the place.

May 15 The pair of owlets were observed mating at dusk. Soon afterwards, they entered the cavity of a tree together and remained there for some time.

May 17 The pair was calling in broad daylight (1.30 p.m.) in an open branch in scrub. One of them attacked a Palm Squirrel, which passed close to it.

May 18. They were seen again in the same scrub at 3.30 pm. After a shower of rain. One of them selected a perch on a dead branch, overlooking an expanse of open ground. From this commanding position it twice swooped down on the ground like a Roller, and returned to a different branch, each time. I watched this one for over an hour, during which it changed its perch thrice.

June 7 The pair of owlets were abroad at 5.30 am. While one being mobbed by a pair of Bulbuls, the other sat on a branch 100 yards away, contentedly preening its feathers. One of them had lately taken a fancy to a dead tree on the edge of the scrub, where it had two favourite perches.

June 12 One owlet was out at 4.45 pm. when the sun was very bright. It did not pay much heed to the Sunbirds, which hovered about its head.

June 24 One of the owlets came to its usual perch at 7.00 am and remained there until 10.20. About 8.00 am. It appeared to be very drowsy. It yawned showing a pinkish-red mouth. Next, it blinked its eyes a couple of times and then it closed the eyes and remained in that position for about ten minutes. When the sun became hotter it turned its back on it and curled up one leg. All of a sudden, it became alert and dropped on the scrub like a Kestrel. In two minutes it returned to the perch, and swooped down again, but came back immediately. Next, it flew over and sat on the leaf of a plantain tree. At 10.20 am it retired for the morning.

By now I was certain they were nesting. But not in any one of the tree holes I had suspected they were. There was a large rock close by, full of hidden grottos, roofed over by the branches of a giant fig tree. Could they be nesting in a crevice of this rock? I had often seen them perching on the shoulder of the rock.

June 27. At last I found the next of the owlets. It was in a natural cavity 45-50 feet up in a large tree, five feet in girth. The entrance was about 4 inches wide, and as far as I could see from below there was only one young there. It was the hunger note of the young that attracted me to the tree. It was an open place beside the road, that one would have least expected to find a family of owlets to be at home.

The young was fed only during the morning hours, and then after dark. The rest of the day the parents spent their time with the baby inside the nest, in peaceful slumber. Often I would see a parent resting its chin against the doorsteps of the nest with closed eyes. But they, now and again, came out to drive away intruders in the tree. Once, it was an Indian Roller which inadvertently alighted on a branch. The infuriated owlets dislodged the roller off the perch with a single attack.

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July 29 I was away four about ten days, and during my absence the two nestlings had been launched into the world. I found them in the cluster of trees close to the favourite dead tree of the parents. As I watched one of the young flew 30 yards towards me, where one of the parents was holding a large beetle (something similar) in one of its feet. The young owlet alighted on the same branch, and approached the parent uttering a tinkling note. The parent then offered it the beetle which the young took in the beak. From the beak it transferred the food to the right foot and after nibbling away at it for sometime proceeded to swallow it whole.

Like the adults, the young freely used the feet for the purpose of conveying food to the mouth. The young made most amusing gestures. For instance, when studying objects that interested them they would oscillate their bodies from side to side and rotate their heads in a ludicrous manner. Their hunger note could be likened to the tinkling of a small bell (one the Kandyan dancers wear on their ankle). They kept up the cry throughout and intensified whenever the parents came with food. In the act of producing this the mandibles opened and closed, but they were also capable of crying with the beak closed. The young were strangely silent after dark.

July 30 As I approached closer to get a better view of the young, a parent made a warning noise to which the young quickly responded.

K.G.H. Munidasa (Sunday Observer)

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