Bird watchers spot rare black owl in Saswad
Article Date: 2004-08-05 Source: http://cities.expressindia.com
By Anuradha Mascarenhas
Saswad, Maharashtra, India - Three city bird watchers stumbled upon a rare melanistic
owl at Saswad, some 40 km from Pune, recently.
Such an owl has never been documented among the several species of the
spotted owlet (smaller owls) found in India that includes athene
brama brama, athene brama indica and athene brama ultra.
The pitch black melanistic owl takes its name from its excessive melanin
pigment, says radiologist Dr Satish Pande who, alongwith environment
science student Amit Pawashe and medical practitioner Dr M N Mahajan,
were studying the dietary habits of spotted owlets at Saswad. Pande said
the black owl cannot be spotted easily as against the albino owl which
catches the attention of predators. Interestingly, this melanistic owl
has a spotted owlet for a parent while its partner is partially
Now, they plan to write to author of Owls of The World James Duncan who
had urged bird watchers to send details of any rare owls and to
international ornithology journals.
The trio have also taken up conservation of owls. ''At least 15
incidences have been reported where owls have been trapped and their
nests burnt due to superstitious beliefs.'' They have been educating
villagers of Garade, Udit, Hivre, Jejuri and Saswad about these birds
that eat rodents in the fields, says Pande.
Owls also eat scorpions
The trio's study has thrown up startling findings about the owls' diet.
Spotted owlets are known to throw undigested food in the form of
pellets. Sixty-five such pellets were sterilised and analysed. While the
owlets prefer beetles, for the first time the presence of scorpion body
parts were found. The owlets ingested the scorpions along with their
pointed hard stings later expelled in the pellets. This shows their
adaptive response to the drought-like situation in Saswad.
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2010-07-03 - Indian Eagle Owl's diet can benefit farmers: experts by Anuradha Mascarenhas - Pune, Maharashtra, India
2007-06-29 - Vanishing nests force owls into human habitated areas by Anuradha Mascarenhas - Pune, Maharashtra, India
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