The Forest Owlet Athene (Heteroglaux) blewitti (Forest Spotted Owlet or Blewitt?s Owl), one of the least known endemic birds of India. It is the only member of its genus and has been recently (1997) rediscovered. The fact that it is known to be distinctive in appearance compare to Spotted Owlet Athene brama and as well as to some extent is diurnal, even highly visible. It has long been considered a subspecies of A. brama.
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Video Forest Owlet
copyright: Martin Kennewell
Heteroglaux blewitti is endemic to central India. Until its rediscovery in 1997, it was known from seven specimens collected during the 19th century at four localities in two widely separated areas, northern Maharashtra, and south-east Madhya Pradesh/western Orissa. In 2000, a survey of 14 forest areas across its former range located 25 birds at four sites in northern Maharashtra and south-western Madhya Pradesh, including three pairs at Taloda Forest Range and seven pairs at Toranmal Forest Range. Further surveys on the Toranmal Forest Range in November 2009 revealed that only two of the seven territories remain. No birds were found in a brief survey of its former eastern range in Orissa, or in north east Andhra Pradesh. More recently survey effort in the Satpura Range (Maharashtra) has located another five sites, indicating that the species may prove to be widespread but previously overlooked in the western Satpuda Mountains, and in 2006 birds were found in Burhanpur and Khandawa. By 2005, over 100 individuals had been recorded in Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, which is now recognised as the species’s stronghold. Modelling suggests that its remaining range is severely fragmented, and only c.10% is protected. Although there is some confusion over its former abundance, evidence strongly suggests it has always been scarce.