Factors influencing the flush response and flight initiation distance of three owl species in the Andaman Islands

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Shanmugavel Sureshmarimuthu
Santhanakrishnan Babu
Honnavalli Nagaraj Kumara
Nagaraj Rajeshkumar


Effects of anthropogenic pressures on birds of the Andaman Islands have been documented to some extent, however studies on the effect of human activities on the behavioural response of these birds are limited. This study assessed the anti-predatory behaviour (flush response - FR and flight initiation distance - FID) of three owl species (Otus sunia, Otus balli, and Ninox obscura) in response to human stimuli and factors influencing it on the Andaman Islands. In total, 63 % of owls flushed from their roost sites in response to approaching human, and such a response varied between species. Similarly, FID varied widely among the species ranging from 4.23 to 6.73 m. The FR of N. obscura was influenced by the count of climbers, presence of spine, and branch status, while roost height, ambient temperature, and lower count of climbers contributed to a higher FID. For the two Otus species, camouflage and pairing were found to influence their FR while FID of O. balli was influenced by roost height, pairing, and presence of spines. Our results indicated that the anti-predatory behaviour of owls on the Andaman Islands was species- and site-specific and prolonged disturbance to their roost sites may affect the survival and reproductive rate of these owls.  

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