Indian Eagle Owl

The Indian eagle owl, also known as the rock eagle-owl or Bengal eagle-owl (scientific name: Bubo bengalensis), is a captivating bird species that not only holds cultural significance but also plays an essential role in rural Indian ecosystems. With its distinctive features and intriguing folklore, this nocturnal predator has captured the attention of ornithologists, farmers, and communities alike.

This topic of “Indian Eagle Owl” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Unveiling the Characteristics

Size and Appearance

The Indian eagle owl stands out with its slightly larger size, with females reaching up to two and a half feet in total length and boasting a six-foot wingspan. One of its most notable features is the prominent ear tufts that resemble horns, projecting from its head. These tufts have evolved to create a threatening look, deterring potential predators.

Nocturnal Habits and Habitat

The eagle owl’s nocturnal nature makes it an elusive creature, venturing out under the cover of night. Unlike many owls, it doesn’t heavily depend on forests; instead, it can be found near human settlements. It favors rocky perches and crags as ideal settings for its nests.

Myth and Symbolism

Cultural Superstitions

Throughout rural India, the Indian eagle owl is steeped in superstitions. Its loud double-hoot calls have been considered bearers of ill omens. Ornithologist Salim Ali documented these superstitions, noting that trapped and starved eagle-owls would sometimes emit human-like sounds, leading to beliefs that they could portend the future.

Myths and Symbolic Powers

Across various cultures, owls have held significance. From the Greeks to the Aztecs, they’ve been associated with foretelling victories or warning of impending dangers. Negative superstitions surrounding the eagle owl are a result of its ferocious defensive tactics in nesting areas.

Wisdom and Prosperity

In contrast, the owl’s association with wisdom is noted in Indian culture. The goddess Lakshmi’s emblem, Uluka (the owl), symbolizes knowledge and prosperity, emphasizing the bird’s multifaceted significance.

Agricultural Benefits

Role in Agriculture

Research by the Ela Foundation and the Zoological Survey of India sheds light on the eagle owl’s role in agricultural ecosystems. When eagle-owls are found near agricultural lands, they contribute positively by raising more and healthier owlets. Their presence is directly correlated with abundant rodent populations near farms, offering natural pest control.

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