Facts about Chestnut-backed Owlet. A Chestnut-backed Owlet is a Sri Lankan owl and was described by Edward Blyth in 1846. The Chestnut-backed Owlet is not the same as the Chestnut owlet, species name Glaucidium castaneum. Another difference between the two species is range – the Glaucidium castaneum is Asian, while the Chestnut owlet lives in Africa.
The Chestnut-backed Owlet is sometimes called Taenioglaux castanonota. It was previously called the Athene castanotus. The Chestnut-backed Owlet was once considered a race of G. radiatum but is now considered its own species.
Physical Description of Chestnut-backed Owlet
The Chestnut-backed Owlet upper plumage is primarily brown, hence the name, with dark brown barring. The plumage on the bottom is white and off-white with heavy brown bars. Chestnut-backed Owlets have spotted crowns. The facial disk is mostly brown. Chestnut-backed Owlets have white neckbands. The lower breast is spotted with off-white. The tail is densely barred brown and buff.
The Chestnut-backed Owlet's eyes are yellow. Chestnut-backed Owlets have dark orange claws that end in olive or brown horn. Chestnut-backed Owlets have dark yellow-gray bills. Their ceres are dusky green.
Chestnut-backed Owlets are about seven and a half inches in length. Males and females have similar appearances. Females are a little larger and heavier than the males.
Its flight is deep and undulating.
Chestnut-backed Owlets look a lot like the Jungle owlet but with bright chestnut brown on their backs, more red tinting on the wings and fewer black bars.
There are Scops owls which look similar to the Chestnut-backed Owlet, but the Chestnut-backed Owlet does not have the Scops owl’s ear tufts.
The Chestnut-backed Owlet is probably most closely related to Glaucidium radiatum. That species is found in Sri Lanka in addition to the Chestnut-backed Owlet, but they live in different habitats. Both owls are similar in size and shape. The Chestnut-backed Owlet is darker and has a grayer head, as well as upper parts that are covered in chestnut and blackish bars.
Behavior of Chestnut-backed Owlet
The Chestnut-backed Owlet is diurnal, most active at dawn and dusk. The Chestnut-backed Owlet is shy of people and avoids human habitation, which makes it extremely susceptible to logging and areas cleared for agriculture.
Chestnut-backed Owlets mostly eat insects like moths, beetles, and centipedes. Chestnut-backed Owlets will eat smaller birds, lizards, and mice if it can catch them. It will eat any vertebrate or invertebrate that it can catch and eat. Chestnut-backed Owlets favor larger prey when it has young to feed. It usually starts its hunt from a perch on the tree.
Breeding season is from March until May. Chestnut-backed Owlets nest in unlined tree cavities and will make use of abandoned woodpecker nests. They usually have two white eggs per clutch.
The Chestnut-backed Owlet's call is more like a crow’s craw than a hoot.
Habitat of Chestnut-backed Owlet
The Chestnut backed owlet lives in wet zone forests. It is found in dense forests up to 6,000 feet in elevation.
Range of Chestnut-backed Owlet
The Chestnut backed Owl is threatened by dwindling habitat. It is classified as near threatened by the IUCN. Its range does include the Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve in Sri Lanka.
Trivia of Chestnut-backed Owlet
This species is sympatic with the Jungle Owlet.
The Chestnut-backed Owlet is not the same species as the chestnut-barred owlet, also called the etchecopar’s owlet. That species has the species name taenioglaux etchecopari. You can distinguish between the two by the chestnut owlet’s more spotted head, brown-barred collar being prominent.