Andaman Scops Owl
The Andaman Scops Owl primarily lives on the South Andaman Island in the Andaman Islands off the Indonesian Archipelago.
The Andaman Scops Owl has the species name otus balli; it was given this name by Allan Hume. It is a member of the genus Otus, family Strigidae and order strigiformes. It may be closely related to the of O. spilocephalus owl species native to Sumatra.
The species was identified by Hume in 1873. The Andaman Scops Owl was initially identified by studying feathers left behind by the birds. The Andaman Scops Owl is sometimes called the Sumatran Scops owl, though it is not found in Sumatra.
In French, these owls are called Petit-duc des Andaman. In Dutch, they are called both Andamanendwergooruil and Andamanen-dwergooruil.
These birds are seven to seven and a half tall. Andaman Scops Owls have large, green-yellow eyes.
Andaman Scops Owls have reddish brown feathers with a pale facial disk and white eyebrows. Their tail feathers and flight feathers are barred. There are two main color variants to this species – brown and reddish-brown.
The upper part of their bodies is darker than the plumage below. Their upper parts have black vermiculations. Andaman Scops Owls have gray bills. Their feet are gray. Andaman Scops Owls have prominent ear tufts. Andaman Scops Owls have pale eyebrows.
This bird is similar in appearance to the African owl Otus icterorhynchus. Otus icterorhynchus is also called the sandy scops owl. However, they differ in coloring and bird calls.
Like all owls, Andaman Scops Owls have excellent long distance vision. Andaman Scops Owls have short, rounded wings.
The only other Scops owl in their range, the Oriental scops owl, have a different, wug-chug-chug call. The Andaman owl is also lighter in coloring.
Like all owls, their eyes are fixed in their sockets. Instead, Andaman Scops Owls have many vertebrae in the neck to let them turn their heads almost 360.
These birds roost in semi-open areas and cultivated areas like rubber plantations. The birds were common in their habitat into the 19th century, and they seem to tolerate disturbed areas like tree farms better than other owl species.
The species is considered near threatened because of its small range and the destruction of its habitat due to human expansion in the Andaman Islands. The number of owls in their range is not known, but they only live in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
These owls mostly eat caterpillars, beetles, and other insects. They catch caterpillars in a method similar to that of parrots. They also eat insect larvae. Unlike some of the other Andaman owls, we do know quite a bit about their habits. Andaman Scops Owls nest in tree hollows or abandoned woodpecker holes several feet above the ground. Andaman Scops Owls lay eggs between February and April. The Andaman Scops Owl does not migrate in its range.
These birds are strictly nocturnal.
The species name otus balli was given in honor of Valentine Ball, an Irish geologist who participated in the Geological Survey of India in 1864 and regularly contributed to the studies of birds and anthropology. Ball periodically published papers in the ornithological journal founded by Hume.