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Forest Owlet

Athene blewitti

The forest owlet (Athene blewitti) is endemic to the forests of central India. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2018, as the population is estimated at less than 1,000 mature individuals. It is threatened foremost by deforestation. It is a member of the typical owl family Strigidae, and was first described in 1873. As it was not sighted after 1884, it was considered extinct for many years. In 1997, it was rediscovered by Pamela Rasmussen. Searches in the locality mentioned on the label of the last collected specimen failed, and it turned out that the specimen had been stolen from the British Museum by Richard Meinertzhagen and resubmitted with a label bearing false locality information. The forest owlet is small (23 cm) and stocky. It is a typical owlet with a rather unspotted crown and heavily banded wings and tail. They have a relatively large skull and beak. Unlike the spotted owlet, the forest owlet has the fewer and fainter spots on the crown and back. The upperparts are dark grey-brown. The upper breast is almost solid brown and the sides are barred with a white central wedge in the lower breast that is sometimes unmarked, especially in males. The primaries are darker and distinct. The wings and tail are banded with white trailing edges. A dark carpal patch on the underwing is visible in flight. The facial disc is pale and the eyes are yellow.
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