Spotted Owlet (Athene brama)

The Spotted Owlet is a small, cute looking owl that is found in India and South East Asia. They are widespread all over the country and can even be seen in urban areas, quietly sitting on trees, cavities of rocks or even a quiet corner in buildings. They are small birds, barely 8 to 8 ½ inches in length.

Like all owls, the Spotted Owlets are nocturnal and are known to stare at intruders during the day, as did this pair when I photographed them at Bharatpur.

Their courtship behaviour is very interesting to watch and includes bill grasping, preening and ritual feeding. The female may call with the male, bob its head up and down, and deflect its tail in invitation! This is a good sight to spot, especially during their breeding season in the winter months.

Their loud and harsh calls can often be heard even in urban areas especially at sunset or early dawn. They are capable of swooping through the air without making a sound due to their light feathers.

In Hindu mythology the owl is a vahan (mode of transport) of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth.

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