Photos by Sure Milks
I felt we were due for an Athena genus owl, and you all know the Little Owl and the Burrowing Owl by now, so today we have the Spotted Owlet. This little puff lives in India through Southeast Asia.
From the photographer about the photos:
A small uncrested owl with a round head and a short tail. It is grayish-brown overall with white spots above while its underparts are white with brown bars. Note the distinctive white eyebrows and neck-band. Often active at dawn and dusk when it utters a loud “chirurr-chirurr-chirurr” laugh in addition to a variety of high-pitched squeals and whistles. Inhabits all kinds of open habitats but avoids dense forest and wetter regions.
Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan, India. February 2015.
From doing a little reading, they seem to have a peculiar wake/sleep cycle. They seem to have a gland many vertebrates have, but was thought to be absent in owls, the pineal gland, which regulates melatonin. It is named the pineal gland because it looks like a pinecone.
Snippet from Wikipedia:
The brain has a pineal gland, formerly thought to be absent in the owls. Birds show variation in the melatonin concentration between day and night. A high melatonin level is associated with sleep and low levels are associated with high alertness and foraging activity. Spotted owlets, however, show only a slightly lower melatonin concentration at night with a slight increase in the early afternoon. Other owls such as the barn owl show little day-night variation. Seasonal changes in glandular activity have been associated with environmental factors such as temperature and humidity.
I'll have to check this out more. This is a generic bird pineal gland. If it's supposed to look like a pinecone, it isn't the part I was expecting.