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A photo of a Jungle Owlet (Glaucidium radiatum)
Jungle Owlet

Jungle Owlet

Glaucidium radiatum

The Jungle Owlet, or Glaucidium radiatum, is a diminutive and elusive bird of prey, cloaked in a fine barring across its plumage. It lacks a distinct facial disk, a characteristic feature of many owls, and its wings are a muted brown with a tail that is narrowly barred in white. The bird's upper parts are a dark black-brown, intricately barred with white, while the lower side is a lighter whitish or pale rufous, also barred with black. A whitish patch adorns the chin, upper breast, and center of the abdomen. The eyes are a striking yellow, and the bill and tarsi are a greenish hue, tipped with black claws.

Identification Tips

To identify the Jungle Owlet, look for its rounded head and the absence of a clear facial disk. The plumage is finely barred, and the bird has distinctive white and rufous patches on the wing coverts. The primaries and secondaries are dark brown, barred with pale chestnut. The yellow iris, greenish bill, and tarsi, along with black claws, are also key identification features.

Habitat

The Jungle Owlet thrives in a variety of wooded habitats, from scrub forests to deciduous and moist deciduous forests. It is an adaptable bird that can be found in regions south of the Himalayas and in some Himalayan areas up to an elevation of 2,000 meters.

Distribution

This species is native to the Indian Subcontinent, with its range extending from Dalhousie in the west to Bhutan in the east. It is also found in the plains of India and Sri Lanka.

Behaviour

The Jungle Owlet is primarily crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk, but it is not uncommon to hear its calls or see it flying during the day. When roosting, it may become the target of mobbing by other birds such as drongos and sunbirds. If disturbed, it can remain motionless, blending in with its surroundings like a dead tree stump. It is also known to bask in the morning sun before retreating to its roost.

Song & Calls

The call of the Jungle Owlet is a rapid and distinctive series of "prao" sounds that crescendo and then diminish in volume before ending abruptly. During the day, young nestlings may emit tick calls similar to those of a pale-billed flowerpecker.

Breeding

The breeding season for the Jungle Owlet in India is from March to May. They nest in tree hollows at heights of 3 to 5 meters. The typical clutch size is four eggs, though the subspecies G. r. malabaricum may lay only three.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Jungle Owlet includes insects, small birds, reptiles, and rodents. They are adept hunters, capturing prey like small Phylloscopus warblers even during the day, though they primarily forage in the hour before sunrise and after sunset.

Conservation status

The Jungle Owlet is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that it currently faces no significant threats to its survival on a global scale.

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