Chestnut-backed owlet

In the dark, dense forests of Sri Lanka, there dwells a tiny yet mighty creature – the Chestnut-backed owlet. Its soft, downy feathers provide perfect camouflage amongst the mossy trees, and its piercing golden eyes gleam like tiny beacons in the night.

This diminutive bird may be small in stature, but its spirit is fierce. With a wingspan of just a few inches, the Chestnut-backed owlet is a master of flight, darting and weaving through the thick foliage with astonishing agility. Its sharp talons and hooked beak make it a formidable hunter, capable of taking down prey many times its own size.

Serial NumberCharacteristicDescription
1.Common nameChestnut-backed owlet
2.Scientific NameGlaucidium castanotum
3.ColourBrownish-red back, greyish-white underparts
4.Average length in cms17 cm
5.Average Height in cms9 cm
6.Type of birdForest bird
7.Found in Sri Lanka
8.HabitatMontane and subtropical forests
9.StatusNear Threatened


The Chestnut-backed owlet is a small yet striking bird, with a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from other species in its family. Its feathers are soft and downy, providing excellent insulation against the cool, damp forests where it lives.

The back of the Chestnut-backed owlet is a rich, deep chestnut brown color, with delicate white streaks running down its wings and back. Its belly and chest are a creamy white, and its face is marked by a dark, angular mask that gives it a fierce and determined look.

In terms of size, the Chestnut-backed owlet is one of the smallest species of owl in the world. It typically stands just 13-15 centimeters tall and measures around 40-50 centimeters in length from head to tail. Despite its small size, this bird has a powerful build, with strong talons and a hooked beak that allow it to hunt prey with precision and efficiency.

Habitat and Food

The Chestnut-backed owlet is a bird that is found only in Sri Lanka. This species is typically found in dense, moist forests, where it can take advantage of the abundant insect and small mammal populations that thrive in these habitats.

In terms of eating habits, the Chestnut-backed owlet is a carnivore that primarily feeds on insects and small mammals. Its diet consists of a variety of prey, including beetles, moths, crickets, and even small rodents like mice and shrews. This bird is a skilled hunter, using its keen eyesight and acute hearing to locate prey in the dark of night. Once it has identified a potential target, the Chestnut-backed owlet swoops down and grabs its prey with its powerful talons, before dispatching it with its sharp beak.

Despite its carnivorous diet, the Chestnut-backed owlet plays an important role in maintaining the delicate balance of the forest ecosystem. By keeping populations of insects and small mammals in check, this bird helps to prevent overgrazing and other ecological imbalances that can threaten the health of the forest.

Nesting and Nurturing

The Chestnut-backed owlet is a species of bird that is known for its unique nesting habits. Unlike many other bird species that build elaborate nests high up in trees, the Chestnut-backed owlet prefers to make its home in the abandoned nests of other birds or in natural cavities in tree trunks.

During the breeding season, the female Chestnut-backed owlet lays a clutch of 2-3 small white eggs, which she incubates for around 20-24 days. Once the eggs hatch, the parents take turns caring for the young, bringing them food, and protecting them from predators. The baby owlets are born with a thick layer of downy feathers and closed eyes, and they rely completely on their parents for survival.

As the young owlets grow and develop, they become more independent and begin to explore their surroundings. The parents continue to care for them, teaching them how to hunt and fend for themselves in the forest. This process can take several months, and during this time the family unit remains close-knit, with the parents working together to ensure the survival of their offspring.

The Chestnut-backed owlet is a devoted and caring parent, and its nesting habits are an important part of its reproductive strategy. By using abandoned nests or natural cavities in trees, this bird is able to avoid the time and energy required to build its own nest from scratch. Instead, it can focus its efforts on caring for its young, ensuring that they have the best possible chance of survival in the harsh and competitive world of the forest.

IUCN Status

The Chestnut-backed owlet is currently listed as a species of “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

The Chestnut-backed owlet is vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by deforestation, agriculture, and other human activities. Climate change may also impact this species, as it requires specific temperature and moisture conditions to thrive.

Conservation efforts aimed at protecting forest habitats and preventing further destruction of these ecosystems may help to ensure the long-term survival of the Chestnut-backed owlet and other forest-dwelling species. Ongoing monitoring and research can also help to better understand the ecology and behavior of this species, which in turn can inform conservation strategies and management plans.

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