Among all the avian orders, the order Strigiformes (owls) is unique in terms of evolutionary trajectory and adaptations that its members exhibit. Its true that owls look non-ordinary and make low frequency (scary!) calls, but owls are one of the most fascinating birds of prey around us!
Several myths surround owls. At some places they are worshiped, at others they are considered a bad omen. Their perceived godliness is a threat to them as they are sacrificed to please the goddess of wealth in parts of India!
Owls, typically, have binaural hearing and binocular vision. Owls rely on their vision and hearing abilities to locate their prey. Their feathers are adapted to noiseless flight, hence owls are known as silent killers.
Around 218 owl species are found across the globe, of which 37 occur in India. For my doctoral work, I worked on the Forest Owlet, Spotted Owlet, Jungle Owlet, and Little Owl, all small sized owl species from the subcontinent.
Listening to owls at night is a mesmerizing experience, and i think it is the best way to locate them and identify them. Imagine you are in a pitch dark forest, known to be full of “predators”, listening to the owl calls…! I have been there so many times, to return back to the base with the incredible feeling!
What do we do?
At Chatur Ullu Lab, we are involved in studies concerned with understanding spatio-temporal distribution of owls of India. We are connected with a network of owl scientists across the Europe and hoping to come up with some interesting data.
We are also actively involved in awareness talks and interactions so that people understand the value of owls and get away with the fear they have about these beautiful animals.