The critically endangered forest owlet, which was regarded as extinct till it was rediscovered in 1997, has been spotted in the Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary. The discovery of this elusive bird makes it the first in the Western Ghats.
According to experts, the sighting by naturalists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) at Tansa calls for more studies to identify its presence in similar habitats in drier parts in north western ghats and a reassessment of its earlier known range.
“I am delighted with the discovery of this extremely rare bird so close to Mumbai. I hope the authorities will take steps to protect the forest owlet in Tansa,” said Asad Rahmani, BHNS director.
“This clearly highlights the need to conserve crucial avian habitats such as Tansa and other areas which are potential homes of forest owlet,” said ornithologist Girish Jathar, who is a PhD on the forest owlet at BNHS.
It was in October that Sunil Laad and his companions spotted the forest owlet in a dry deciduous forest with open patches of the partially-degraded Tansa, very similar to its typical habitat in the Satpura ranges. Subsequent visits recorded the bird’s call seven kilometres away from the location.
* For 113 years, the forest owlet was regarded extinct till Pamela Rasmussen, researcher at the National Museum of Natural History rediscovered it on her trip to Toranmal Reserve Forest in Nandurbar in 1997
* Unlike spotted owlets that are nocturnal creatures with a harsh birdcall, forest owlets venture out during the day and sound like the cuckoo
* At present, there are 125 forest owlets across the world apart from those found in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in India