NILGIRIS: A team of researchers from the Department of Wildlife Biology at Ooty Government Arts College recently completed a year-long study on Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica) from the district. The team led by Assistant Professor B Ramakrishnan, noticed 23 roosting sites of the owl which can be seen only from higher elevations of the shola forests.
The team also analysed the food habits of the owl and found that it consumes six types of rats that are a big threat to farmers near Kodanad, Coonoor, Ooty and Avalanche areas as the rodent population is high in these areas.
Out of ten species of owl found in Nilgiris, Barn Owl (Tyto Alba), Brown Fish Owl (Ketupa Zeylonesis), Rock Eagle owl (Bubo bengalensis) and Brown Wood Owl were living at a higher elevation of more than 1,800 metres above the sea level. However, the team was unable to identify their sites as it was difficult for them to spend the entire night observing their behaviours, collecting their pellets is analysing their food habits.
The team also collected a total of 50 regurgitated pellets as regurgitation is a unique characteristic of the owl. Ramakrishnan said, "We are proud that we took up the study and found the food habits, roosting sites, etc of the Brown Wood Owl for the first time in the country.
So far the birders have identified many records of direct spotting of the owl at various places in the E-bird platform and other online portals. We have come across a study under the topic of observation on the nesting ecology of a brown wood owl in a forest in Sri Lanka.
Moreover, the first breeding of the owl was recorded in 2011 in Hong Kong and now we have spotted a good number of juvenile Brown Wood owls in Nilgiris and that is why we have started the project. However, we were unable to identify the nesting sites of the owl. However, we are unable to confirm the population of the owl using the existing identified roosting sites."
K Eswaran, Project assistant said, "We have randomly visited the farming land and observed records using their unique sounds and have sighted the bird."
Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education has granted the research project which was taken up under the minor research projects schemes for teachers of government arts and science colleges in the state and it was awarded to Ramakrishnan in 2023.