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Range DescriptionHeteroglaux blewitti is endemic to central India. Until its rediscovery in 1997, it was only known from seven specimens collected during the 19th century at four localities in two widely separated areas, north-western Maharashtra (G. Jathar in litt. 2012), and south-east Madhya Pradesh/western Orissa. In 2000, a survey of 14 forest areas across its former range located 25 birds at four sites in northern Maharashtra and south-western Madhya Pradesh, including three pairs at Taloda Forest Range and seven pairs at Toranmal Forest Range. Further surveys in 2004 found 12 adults and 7 fledglings in Toranmal but no birds were found in Taloda (Jathar and Rahmani 2004), and following surveys in 2005 and 2006 also reported a pair of birds at Toranmal Forest Range (Jathar and Rahmani 2006, Jathar and Patil 2011, G. Jathar in litt. 2012). Further surveys on the Toranmal Forest Range in November 2009 revealed that only two of the seven territories remain (G. Jathar in litt. 2010). A further study in 2010-2011 surveying known localities in Taloda and Toranmal Forest Ranges found no birds in Taloda and only one pair in Toranmal despite intensive surveying over two seasons (Jathar and Patil 2011). No birds were found in a brief survey of its former eastern range in Orissa, or in north-east Andhra Pradesh (Mehta et al. 2007, Anon. 2009).
In 2003, survey effort in the Satpura Range (Maharashtra) located another five sites with a total of nine birds (Rithe 2003), indicating that the species may prove to be widespread but previously overlooked in the western Satpura Mountains, and in 2006, 24 birds were found in two sites in Burhanpur and one site in Khandwa (Mehta et al. 2007). By 2005, over 100 individuals had been recorded in Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra (Kasambe et al. 2005), which is now recognised as the species's stronghold. The species has also been found breeding nearby at Yawal Wildlife Sanctuary (Chavan and Rithe 2009), however recent surveys found no Forest Owlet in this area (Bombay Natural History Society 2013). The species was recently recorded in Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra (Deshpande 2014). Modelling suggests that its remaining range is severely fragmented, and only c.10% is protected (G. Jathar in litt. 2010). Although there is some confusion over its former abundance, evidence strongly suggests it has always been scarce.