|Synonyms|| Carine brama|
In English the bird is called "spotted owlet", which fully corresponds to its appearance; the "owlet" part of its name helped to distinguish it from several other, larger, species of owls which share the name.
The Latin binominal name references mythology. Athene, the genus of which it belongs to, refers to the Greek goddess Athena, who was often portrayed with an owl, used as a messenger between her and men on the battlefield. Brama refers to the owl's use as a messenger of omens as well within Hindu mythology, appropriated by the Dutch scientist Conrad Temminck during the classification of this bird in 1821, and named after one of the supreme gods of Hinduism, Brahma. it is also the vehicle, or vahana of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
The spotted owlet, like other species of the genus Athene, is relatively small in size as compared to other owls within Strigidae. It is about 8.3 inches in length with a 12-inch wingspan, and weighs 3.8 to 4 ounces. Females are similar in color, yet slightly larger, than males.
In appearance it is very similar to the forest owlet (Athene blewitti), which lives within in its range. The upper body of the spotted owlet is grayish-brown with white specks, which are sparse on the head and upper back and numerous at the waist. The lower part of the body is white, with gray-brown mottling. Around the neck and lower part of the head is a white "collar", which rises on either side of the facial disk to connect with defined white "eyebrows". The disk is a creamy-buff brown with darker concentric lines. The iris is bright yellow. Beak is a light yellow-green, but sometimes has a darker shade. The legs are feathered to the toes, which are a dirty-yellow in color with dark claws.
The voice of the spotted owlet is a series of sharp, grinding disyllabic screams, such as chirurrr-chirurrr-chirurrr... with cheevak, cheevak, cheevak either following or alternating. The flight is heavily wavy, with a series of fast wing flaps and planing when the wings are pressed against the body.
- Athene brama albida; southern Iran and southern Pakistan
- Athene brama brama; southern India
- Athene brama indica; northern and central India
- Athene brama mayri; Southeast Asia
- Athene brama pulchra; Southeast Asia: Myanmar, extreme southern China (Yunnan), Thailand (except peninsula), southern Laos, Cambodia, southwestern Vietnam
The main difference between subspecies is the general color background, which is usually darker in birds of southern populations. In addition, the differences are expressed in the frequency and size of specks on the head and other parts of the body.
Range and habitat
The spotted owlet is widespread throughout southern Asia, from southeastern Iran eastward to much of Southeast Asia, and from the Himalayas to the southern tip of India.
It prefers open places, including semi-deserts and even some areas of deserts, as long as they have a presence of trees or rocks necessary for nesting. It is found in wooded areas, but avoids dense forest. In the mountains occurs at an altitude of up to 4,600 feet above sea level. It is also found frequently with human habitation, nesting within, and hunting from, parks, gardens, and buildings from farm structures to residential homes and businesses.