Brown Fish Owl (Bubo zeylonensis or Ketupa zeylonensis) - Yala, Sri Lanka
Canon 500mm F4 L IS
Evaluative Metering +1/3
Text adapted from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Fish-owl
This species is a part of the family known as typical owls, Strigidae, which contains most living owls. It inhabits the warm subtropical and humid tropical parts of continental Asia and some offshore islands.
It is a large owl with prominent "ear" tufts, typically around 55 cm in length and weighing 2–2.5 kg when fully grown. Subspecies differ in size and males are smaller than females, with the smallest birds not quite 50 cm long and weighing as little as 1,100 g.
In prehistoric times, this species may have been present across the central and eastern Mediterranean basin, in particular on islands. The Late Pleistocene Bubo insularis is typically considered to include the fragmentary remains originally described as Ophthalmomegas lamarmorae due to a mix-up with the fossil macaque Macaca majori and subsequently unstudied for many decades. Its fossil bones suggest a bird the size of a large Spotted Eagle-owl (B. africanus), a bit smaller still than the smallest living Brown Fish-owls. It was certainly smallish but long-legged by eagle-owl standards, and its wing proportions differed conspicuously from a typical Bubo. On the other hand, its leg and foot bones were more similar to those of a typical eagle-owl. Some consider them a specialized paleosubspecies of the Brown Fish-owl:
Its oldest remains date back at least to the Early Pliocene, about 5 million years ago (Ma). It was widely distributed around 120,000 years ago. After the onset of the last glacial period, less than 100,000 years ago, this population disappeared from the western part of its range, while in the Middle East semenowi – fossil bones indistinguishable from which are known since about the Gelasian, c.2 Ma – would have subsumed any remnants of the eastern Mediterranean population. The Late Miocene-Early Pliocene taxon "Strix" perpasta is unlikely to belong in that genus, and also sometimes merged with B. (z.) insularis.
This species is an all-year resident throughout most of tropical south Asia, from Pakistan through India to southern China and Southeast Asia; it is also found on Sri Lanka. West of its main range, it is patchily distributed to the northern Levant and soutwestern Asia Minor. It inhabits mainly the lowlands, in well-wooded habitat, from open woodland to dense forest as well as in plantations; in the Himalayas foothills it ranges into submontane forest up to 1,500 m ASL or so but not higher. Western birds are found in semiarid landscape and may breed in oases in arid regions. Regardless of habitat, it rarely strays far from larger bodies of water such as rivers and lakes.
This species is very nocturnal but it can often be located by the small birds that mob it while it is roosting in a tree. It feeds mainly on fishes, frogs and aquatic crustaceans; amniotes, in particular terrestrial ones, are seldom taken. If hungry, Brown Fish-owls will scavenge carrion.
As mentioned above, the prehistoric B. insularis is sometimes included in the Brown Fish-owl. If this is correct, the different foot anatomy, more similar to that of a typical eagle-owl, would imply that the population had shifted back to terrestrial prey. A likely prey item in this case would have been the Sardinian Pika (Prolagus sardus). It has been conjectured that the owls disappeared with their prey due to climate change, but the giant pikas of Sardinia and Corsica still existed around 1750, finally succumbing to habitat destruction, introduced predatory mammals and overhunting soon thereafter.