Owls of Andaman

I have a fascination and great admiration for Owls. Whenever I encounter one, I cannot but stop and look at it. Whether I do or not, I am sure the owl would look at me, the curious creature that it is, not that I am a looker or something :-)

Owls are one of the few birds that look you eye to eye, even give you a stare. I get entranced and get a feeling like they are trying to communicate with me. So, it is no surprise that wherever I go birding, I love to spend time in the night looking for owls. It was not to be any different when I visited the beautiful archipelago of the Andaman & Nicobar islands.

The islands of Andaman & Nicobar are home to 6 species of Owls which are endemic to the place, meaning that these species are not found anywhere else but in Andamans. I surely wanted to see and photograph most of them during my stay there.

We would step out every night to explore the regular haunts of the Owls, keenly looking out for them. A big shout out here to Vikram Shill, a truly exceptional bird guide from Andaman, a wonderful person and a close friend of mine.

In the dark of the night, as we strolled along the roads near Chidiya Tapu, a well known birding location in Port Blair, the first Owl we encountered was the Oriental Scops Owl, more specifically a sub-species of the main-land species. This one is also commonly referred to as the Walden’s Scops Owl.

Walden's Scops Owl (Oriental)
Walden's Scops Owl (Oriental)

This individual gave us quite a stare!

The Walden's stare :-)

The next one that we focused on was the Andaman Scops Owl. A beautiful, little fella. This owl was a bit of a challenge to spot and photograph. The individuals that we encountered weren’t very cooperative and would sit in the high canopies, completely silent and carefully tracking us. It took us couple of visits and exploring different sets of locations to manage a decent shot of this Owl.

Andaman Scops Owl

The other Scops Owl found in the islands of Andaman & Nicobar is the Nicobar Scops Owl, which I am yet to see as I haven’t been able to visit Great Nicobar yet, hopefully someday!

Among, the larger Owls, firstly, we have the Andaman Hawk Owl, also known as the Andaman Boobook. This one is very similar to the Brown Hawk Owl found on the mainland but smaller in size. This species is a resident of the islands forests and uses both primary forest and se­condary forest.

Andaman Hawk Owl

The next one is called the Hume’s Hawk Owl or the Hume’s Boobook. Easily identified by its darker color, especially the rich coffee-coloured and unmarked underparts. A lovely species and as indicated by saying ’endemic’, found only in the Andaman islands.

Hume's Hawk Owl
Hume's Hawk Owl

Andaman Barn Owls, also known as the Andaman Masked Owls are another majestic species of Owls endemic to Andamans. A species which looks strikingly different from the Barn Owls found on the mainland. This was the only species of Owl that I could see and photograph both during the day and at night. That in itself was quite an amazing experience.

Andaman Barn(Masked) Owl
Andaman Barn(Masked) Owl pair

More about my experience with the Andaman Masked Owls here -> A morning with the Andaman Barn Owls

Owls are truly fascinating creatures. Unfortunately there are a lot of unwarranted bad myths about them which lead to them being misunderstood, feared and persecuted by people. This has to definitely change and I sincerely hope that it does.

Hope you enjoyed this owly, owly post. Until next time, adios.


That is one brilliant collection of owls. Want to do a photography trip to the Andaman. Let me know if your are planning next time.


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