The population decline of the Forest Owlets are attributed to the following reasons:
- Indiscriminate tree cutting by local people
- Forests are converted for irrigation efforts, agricultural purposes or residential areas
- Vulnerability to egg stealers
- Eggs and chicks used for gambling, black magic, and illegal trade
- Lack of tree cavities as suitable nests
- Victims of speeding vehicles
- Limited prey options as rodents are killed by farmers
The Forest Owlets are native Indian owls considered as extinct in the late 19th century only to be rediscovered by Pamela Rasmussen in 1997. This small but stocky jungle owl is the state bird of Maharashtra.
The sole species from the genus Heteroglaux, mainly feed on small animals within its habitat’s surroundings but can also eat amphibians and large invertebrates twice its size.
Its small population living in the forests of central India is in danger of extinction largely because of human activities. Trees are cut down which limit the Forest Owlets’ options for finding suitable nests away from poachers and predators. As farmers continue in their rodent control efforts, this also reduces the prey options of Forest Owlets.
If they build their nests on areas other than tree cavities, they are exposed to egg stealers or hunters who sell them off as food or objects for black magic and gambling.
Local people also kill them in sight as they are viewed to bring bad luck.