When owls greet the camera
It is, indeed, a unique experience to spot various species of owls in the wild, and capturing that picture perfect moment. Then again, the adventure is bound to get more interesting when the owls decide to ‘hunt you down.’ At first, bird-watching was nothing more than a mere hobby for me. But lately, I decided to pursue the activity in a most professional manner. My lens has witnessed some of the most startling sights – from sparrows to the Great Hornbill, which is also the state bird of Kerala. My recent attempt at capturing one of the most popular birds of prey has been interesting in several respects.
To many Malayalis, some owls are a sign of good luck while some others are bad omens. The owl’s hoots add a certain charm during a silent night.
It was on one such night that I had spotted a barn owl near my house. This bird has a rather distinct hoot. Upon listening to its unique sound, I chose to discover the little wonder and find out where it had made its shelter. A while later, I began wondering about the different methods that I could adopt to capture the barn owl on my camera.
Barn owls reside on the topmost branches of some of the tallest trees in the surrounding area. They are most often seen among the branches of coconut palms. Despite a few obstacles, I had clicked a few pictures of this nocturnal creature. Soon, there were several photographs of the Barn Owl in my archives.
I soon felt a certain connection with the birds and was able to communicate with them. Over 300 photographs of owls had become part of my collection. As I sit down to jot down the various aspects of my latest venture, I can see two barn owls on sitting on a coconut palm and peeking at my world. Well, if the write-up is about them, then who am I to deny them of their right?
The barn owl’s face resembles a heart. Parts of their faces, body and even appear to have a dash of silver. It’s feathers, especially on its head, has a texture that seems to resemble those of a sparrow. Rats, chameleons, as well as other tiny creatures are a part of their daily diet. These birds reside in the dark areas of a tree. They lay about 3- 12 eggs which hatch within of 29-34 days. Scientifically, the barn owl is also known as Tyto alba. These birds can observe various activities even at a height of about 2000 ft above the ground. Some of its most popular ‘hangout’ spots include the fields, meadows, grasslands, forests etc.
Photographs taken at: Thiruvananthapuram
Indian Scops Owl
This bird is also called the Collared Scops Owl. The Indian Scops Owls is quite popular in various parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, and other parts of the Indian Sub-continent. This bird consumes a variety of insects, including beetles, as well as other small creatures. It builds its nest within the barks of trees. During the day, The Indian Scopes Owls are seen resting in their nests or in the open spaces. These birds lay 3-5 eggs, during the month of December, which hatch within 26 days.
Spotted Owlet also known as Athen brama are known for its peculiar order and brownish feathers. It eyes are yellow and its feathers also have a few white spots. This bird feasts on tiny insects and few other creatures found in its own habitat. It lays 3-4 eggs at a time, which hatches over a span of 28-33 days. These birds are popularly seen in meadows, farmlands and even in tiny townships.
One can easily distinguish between the male and female Ceylon Frogmouth Owls based on the colour of their feathers. While the male owls possess a grayish-brown complexion, the females have chestnut coloured feathers. These birds also have unique marks on their bodies. The male Ceylon Frogmouth Owls have a spotted. The female ‘counterparts’ have black speckles on their crown. These birds have a wide, hooked bill with slit-like nostrils. The eyes of these birds face forward providing a wide field of binocular vision. Thereby, giving them a frog-like appearance. The consume a variety of small insects and their vision is rather poor during the day. They are often seen resting on the dark areas of a tree at daytime. These birds lay only an egg which hatches within a relatively short span of time. The bird is scientifically known as Batrachostomus monilige. The Ceylon Frogmouth Owl can be spotted in areas that are covered lush green vegetation as well as between the branches of certain trees.
Photos taken at: Thattekad, Ernakulam district
(Translated by Gitanjali Diwakar)