“A pair of Spotted Owlets (Athene brama) are having continuous feud with a pair of Indian Rollers (Coracias benghalensis) in our garden over a nesting hole. After a brief retreat, the owlets are back in possession of the hole. One of the pair always occupies the hole while the other is safely hidden somewhere in the canopy. The rollers, on their part, dive bomb the hole with loud calls trying to dislodge the occupying owlet. While Indian Rollers are no doubt one of the most brilliantly coloured birds we have, even the most ardent bird lover would be hard pressed to enjoy their calls. Added to this are the shrieks of the owlets themselves and the Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) (who are neighbours). So we have a regular cacophony on here.
“The owlets now enjoy a distinct advantage as possession is nine tenths of the law. However, woe betides the owlet caught in the open by the rollers. It is mercilessly attacked. The attached photo is of an owlet just after it alighted on our roof after one such attack. He looks absolutely frazzled. On a more serious note I wonder how they will be able to breed with this constant harassment.”
Raj Kamal Phukan
Dibrugarh, Assam, India
14th April 2010
Note: The Spotted Owl is a common and familiar owl in India. It is particularly abundant around human habitation. The Indian Roller is another common bird around open cultivated areas. It has a variety of loud, raucous croaks and chuckles. The Rose-ringed Parakeet is similarly common, shrieking loudly in flight and at rest.