Scientific name: Ninox scutulata
Synonyms: Ninox obscura (Hume,1872); Rasmussen and Anderton
We follow Tim Inskipp's updated (2009) version of the Oriental Bird Club
which treats this species as a subspecies of Brown Hawk Owl, as does the 2nd Edition
'Owls of the World' by Konig et.al[10,11]. The IOC accepts the split.
Other common name: Brown Hawk Owl, Oriental Hawk Owl, Hume's Brown Hawk-Owl
Local names: No known local names.
Status: 'Least concern' for Brown Hawk Owl (Ninox scutulata). No
separate assessment for n.s.obscura.
The Hume's Hawk-owl belongs to the Strigidae
('true' or 'typical' owls)
family, which is the larger of the two families of owls. The key feature that characterizes this family is the circular facial
disk and large eyes. The talons have a smooth edge on the claw of the third
toe. In comparison, tytonids show a heart-shaped facial disk and have a
comb-like pectinate middle toe. Strigids are cryptically coloured, have a
short-tailed compact structure, are large-headed, and are mainly nocturnal
birds. They are often divided into 2 subfamilies: Buboninae and Striginae.
They occupy virtually all terrestrial habitats, but most are forest dwelling[6,8,9].
The Strigidae family contains 192 species in 24 genera and
548 taxa and have a worldwide distribution. 80% of strigids
are to be found in the tropics. Ninox is a genus comprising about 21 species
found in Asia and Australasia with 2 (or 3) occurring in India. Many species are known as hawk owls.
Ninox is characterized reduced facial disks, relatively small heads and
elongated hawk-like body and tail[2,4,5].
Source: The Fauna of British India, 1895
The Hume's Hawk-owl is a restricted-range endemic limited to the Andaman
Islands in India. It's range in Nicobar is questioned despite the type
locality which Rasmussen believes to be an error.
First discriminated as new by A.O. Hume in 1873 in 'Stray Feathers'
from a specimen "found in the Nicobars near Camorta", it was similarly treated
by Baker (1927). Ripley (1961) and Ali & Ripley (1969), Inskipp et al. (1996)
treated it as a subspecies, Ninox scutulata obscura. Rasmussen and Anderton
(2005) have, however, treated it as a full species[1,2,4,5,14].
by Hume in Stray Feathers
Description: Largish owl. 32cm. "Very dark chocolate-brown above and
below, growing lighter and more rufous on the abdomen; a few small whitish
spots or bars occur on the flanks and abdomen (often only to be seen by
raising the overlying feathers), and the lower tail-coverts are barred with
white; feathers of the lores, forehead, and chin bristly, whitish, or white
at, the base, black at the ends; quills uniform deep brown; tail-feathers deep
brown, with about four narrow pale greyish cross-bands and a whitish tip. The
head above is often a little darker than the back.
Bill blackish; cere, ridge of upper mandible and tip of lower green; irides
yellow; feet yellow; claws black."
Habits: Nocturnal. Roosts by day singly or in
pairs in thick canopy. Sallies from a perch to take flying insects. Often
observed high in the air.
Call: Anand Prasad describes the call thus:
"oowuk-oowuk" with a one second pause, and.. a quite loud and pleasant "oo-uk..oo-uk"
with a one second pause. Krys Kazmierczak gives the call of Andaman Scops as
wuup, and Brown Hawk Owl as hoowup. [15,17,23].
Interrogative two-noted "cooo-/WHUK" (Rasmussen)
Hear the call at
Xeno-Canto uploaded by Tamas Zalai
Occurrence: Local endemic across the Andaman Islands. Presence in
the Nicobars is questionable.
Population: There are no estimates of the population of this species
though it is unlikely to be high given its restricted range.
Brown Hawk Owl
(Ninox scutulata hirsuta)
Image: Mohanram Kemparaju
Habitat: The Hume's Hawk-owl can be found at
forest edges, near rubber plantations, around settlements, and close to water[4,5].
Food: Mainly insects (dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers) often caught
in flight. Also takes crabs, lizards, amphibians, small mammals and birds[4,5,14,20].
Conservation status: There is no focus on the species as the nominate
is widespread and of limited conservation concern. This may prove to be a
grave mistake should current suggestions of treating it as a full species be
generally supported and accepted at a later date. This is one of the birds
which cry to be evaluated by conservationists as a distinct species and not
lumped with the more abundant cogener.
Conservation measures: The Hume's Hawk-owl is protected under the
Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and its hunting or trapping is prohibited in
References and sources:
1. Hume A. O. , (1872) Stray Feathers1:
Novelties Ninox obscurus, Sp. Nov p11-12.
2. Blanford W. T., (1895) The Fauna of British India
including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Vol-III 309-311
3. Owl Pages: Oriental Hawk Owl -
Ninox scutulata obscura
4. Rasmussen, P. C. & Anderton, J. C. (2005). Birds of South Asia. The
Ripley Guide. Vols. 1 and 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. ISBN
vols 1&2: 84-87334-66-0.
5. Ali, S. A. and S. D. Ripley (1969) Handbook of the Birds of India and
Pakistan. Oxford University Press, Bombay. Vol.3
ISBN: 019 565936 8.
History and Classification' of Owls
7. Eugene W. Oates (1889-98). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon
8. Animal Diversity Web -
9. The Internet Bird Collection -
Typical Owls (Strigidae)
10. Tim Inskipp (2009)
Checklist of birds of the region covered by the Oriental
Bird Club (Dickinson sequence). OBC
11. Claus Konig and Friedhelm Weick (2008) Owls of the World. Christopher
Helm. ISBN-13: 9780713665482
by James Eaton at the Oriental Bird Images Gallery
13. IOC Updates:
Accepted Splits (January 2009)
BUCEROS ENVIS Newsletter:
Avian Ecology and Inland Wetlands Vol.11. No.2&3 (2006) (PDF)
15. King, B. 2003.
The song of Ninox scutulata obscura. JBNHS.
by James Eaton at the Oriental Bird Images Gallery
Xeno-Canto: Bird Songs from Asia. Recording
by Tamas Zalai.
18. The Swedish Museum of Natural History -
Global owl project
19. PAVEY Chris R.,
Evolution of prey holding behaviour and large male body
size in Ninox owls (Strigidae)
20. Bird Forum:
21. Prasad Anand (2002) Birds of India;
South Andaman Trip Report
BirdLife International (2009)