Spotted Owls, an endangered species which is unfortunately considered a sign of ill omen, is the subject of a project for the 15-year-old city student, who has been selected for the final round of the prestigious Homi Bhabha Balvaidnyanik Spardha. The ninth grader from SPM English School, Shreya Kulkarni, who has completed a basic course in ornithology under the guidance of well-known ornithologist Satish Pande of Ela Foundation, said she was inspired by the nocturnal birds with binocular eyes and 270 degree vision.
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“I am determined to change ‘the messengers of death’ image attached to them. And that’s why when I was given to choose a topic for my competition, I took up something that I believed in. I started my research by looking for the spotted owlet and barn owl locations in nearby areas, but what surprised me was that the owls had fled from both the places due to constructions nearby. Even after visiting these spots for 10 consecutive days I couldn’t find any trace of them. I also got to know a roosting location for Barn owl in a society. When I visited the location I found that the society has installed a steel net to get rid of pigeons in the duct where the barn owls used to roost,” she said.
And hence, the project began for which Kulkarni started collecting pellets of spotted owlets. “These pellets are made up of the prey remains the bird can’t digest. For instance, bones, fur, feather, insect and exoskeleton. After collecting 157 pellets, I dissected them which helped me figure out the birds’ food pattern,” she said. “The second part of the project was to find out the status of these birds in the society, wherein I found that these innocent birds are still being killed for black magic and witchcraft,” she added.