Sunday, September 27, 2009

Of Owlets and Owlings

The young of an owl is an owling, while the owlets are a group of small owls. Uttar Pradesh's non-forested areas still retain several species of owls and owlets who appear to breed quite nicely as evidenced by the regular sightings of owlings. Here are two species that I was able to photograph.

Jungle Owlets may not be very appropriately named since they occur in a wide variety of habitats, many outside what may be considered a "jungle". This fellow was calling away on a Eucalyptus tree in the middle of a wheat-and-vegetable landscape.

The Spotted Owlet is perhaps India's most common and widespread owlet. The adult (top) is coming to terms with the early-morning lighting in the canopy of a Neem tree - the pupils of each eye are dilated differently. The owling of the Spotted Owlet (above) appears obviously teenager-ish, and is ready to begin hunting on its own at a few months of age. This particular one, however, was still depending on its parents to do the work.

(Photographs information: Jung
le Owlet: 09 Dec 1998, in Rae Bareli district; Spotted Owlet: adult - 24 Jul 2009, in Sultanpur district, owling - 04 May 2009, Sultanpur district.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Body language

Cranes have among the largest non-vocal communication repertoires in the animal kingdom. Body language is exceedingly important. Here are a few Sarusy gestures that other cranes would know the meaning of instantly.

Wing half-open, an exaggerated walk with legs raised higher than usual, this crane walks up very meaningfully to another Sarus that had landed uncomfortably close to an active nest. The interloper got the message rather quickly!

Crane employ a large number of threat postures increasingly aggressive in their meaning. This female (right extreme) gives a classic ruffle-threat combined with a bow to the pair adjacent to her territory while her partner engages them at closer quarters.

This rare bow-threat is carried out with elan and grace successfully dissuading a pair flying overhead from landing in this crane's territory.

large body size and incredible physical prowess poses a great risk of physical injury should they need to joust physically each time a disagreement occurs. Non-vocal postures with specific meaning, like the three above, are a safer alternative for all concerned.

(Photographs information: Top: 10 Ju
l 2008, Mainpuri district; middle: 28 Nov 2008, Etawah district; bottom: 07 Sep 2009, Farrukhabad district.)

Monday, September 7, 2009


All birds stretch their wings to get the blood flowing and stretch tired muscles. When the world's tallest flying bird does it, the simple activity becomes a spectacular sight! The world is truly its oyster.

(Photo detai
ls: All photos taken on 07 Sep 2009 in Farrukhabad district.)