Spotted owlet

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The spotted owlet (Athene brama) belongs to the family of owls and owlets, the Strigidae.

The spotted owlet species is distributed in Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. These owlet species are resident birds and have adapted to live near human habitation. These owlets are polytypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Spotted Owlet Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The spotted owlet (Athene brama) is a small owlet with rounded head, measuring 18 to 20 cm in length and weighing 100 to 115 grams.

The overall plumage of these owlets is shades of brown. The brown head is heavily spotted white. The facial disc is dark and there are curved white eyebrows. There is a white neck band.

The upperparts of the spotted owlet are grayish brown or brown. The underparts are white with brown streaking. Both the sexes look similar. The juvenile owlets are more whitish with lesser spots and streaks.

The bill has downward curve and is pale yellow. The irises are bright yellow and there is a dark blackish brown eye-ring. The legs and feet are covered with whitish feathers. The call of these owlets is a harsh and loud churring and chuckling "chiurr..chiurr..chiurr" sounds.
Indian birds - Picture of Spotted owlet - Athene brama
1.Birds of India - Image of Spotted owlet - Athene brama by Deepak sankat


Birds of India - Photo of Spotted owlet - Athene brama
2.Indian birds - Picture of Spotted owlet - Athene brama by Mahesh Mankar

Indian birds - Image of Spotted owlet - Athene brama
3.Birds of India - Photo of Spotted owlet - Athene brama by Swaroopsingharoy

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The spotted owlet species is distributed in Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The spotted owlet nominate subspecies A. b. brama is distributed in southern India. The subspecies A. b. ultra is distributed in northeast India. The subspecies A. b. pulchra is distributed in central and southern Myanmar.

The spotted owlet subspecies A. b. indica is distributed in Iran, Pakistan, north and central India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The subspecies A. b. mayri is distributed in north and east Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Ecosystem and habitat

These spotted owlet species have low forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters. The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include cultivated lands, flooded agricultural lands, pasturelands, thickly covered gardens and heavily degraded forests.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these owlet species include, subtropical and tropical open lowland forests, semi-open country, semi-deserts and hot deserts.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the spotted owlet consists mainly of insects. Grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, moths, insect larvae, toads, small frogs, lizards, small birds and small rodents are their primary food.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these spotted owlet species is from February to April in northern India. The laying season is from November to April in southern India.

These spotted owlet species mostly use tree cavities and holes found in buildings and man­made structures for nesting. They prefer well branched densely foliaged trees. Dalbergia sissu, Acacia nilotica, Butea monosperma are some of the preferred tree species.

The clutch contains two to five roundish oval, milky white eggs without any markings. Both pairs take turns to incubate the eggs. The chicks hatch out after 25-30 days and fledge after 25 days.

Migration and movement patterns

These spotted owlet species are non-migratory resident birds. The birds in higher altitudes may descent to lower levels during winter.

Post breeding, the juvenile owlets may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Spotted owlet - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Athene brama
  • Species author: (Temminck, 1821)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Strix brama Temminck, 1821, Carine brama, Noctua indica
  • Family: Strigidae › Strigiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Spotted owlet, Chinese: 横斑腹小鸮, French: Chevêche brame, German: Brahmakauz, Spanish: Mochuelo brahmán, Russian: Браминский сыч, Japanese: インドコキンメフクロウ, Tamil: Pulli Aandhai
  • Other names: Spotted little owl, Grey-bellied little owl
  • Distribution: Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, small birds, toads, small frogs, lizards, small rodents
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the spotted owlet (Athene brama) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be stable.

Throughout its range, this owlet species is reported to be common. The generation length is 4 years. Its distribution size is about 10,800,000

Habitat alteration and destruction and capture of adults and juveniles for pet-trade are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this owlet species.

IUCN and CITES status

The spotted owlet (Athene brama) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the owlet species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for spotted owlet (Athene brama).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Athene brama
Species:A. brama
Binomial name:Athene brama
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The spotted owlet (Athene brama) is closely related to the little owl (Athene noctua) and the boreal owl (Aegolius funereus).

The five recognized subspecies of the spotted owlet (Athene brama) are: Athene brama brama (Temminck, 1821), Athene brama indica (Franklin, 1831), Athene brama ultra Ripley, 1948, Athene brama pulchra A. O. Hume, 1873 and Athene brama mayri Deignan, 1941.
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1.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Deepak sankat | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Mahesh Mankar | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Photo source: (cropped)
Photo author: Swaroopsingharoy | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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