Tag Archives: Strigidae

Otus frutuosoi Rando, Alcover, Olson & Pieper

Sao Miguel Scops Owl (Otus frutuosoi)

The Sao Miguel Scops Owl was described in 2013 based on subfossil remains that had been recovered from Quatrnary deposits on the island of São Miguel in the Azores.

The species had relatively longer legs and shorter wings than the Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops (L.)); it was generally a ground-dwelling bird that apparently was on the way of becoming flightless. [1]

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It is very likely that additional species of scops owls inhabited the others of the Azores Islands.

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References:

[1] Juan Carlos Rando; Josep Antoni Alcover; Storrs L. Olson; & Harald Pieper: A new species of extinct scops owl (Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Otus) from São Miguel Island (Azores Archipelago), North Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa. 3647 (2): 343–357. 2013

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edited: 02.05.2022

Otus grucheti (Mourer-Chauviré, Bour, Moutou & Ribes)

Reunion Scops Owl (Otus grucheti)

The Reunion Scops Owl was restricted to the island of Réunion in the Mascarene Islands; it was described in 1994 and is known exclusively from subfossil remains.

The species has not been mentioned in any of the many contemporary reports; thus it is believed that it died out very shortly after the arrival of the first human settlers on the island.

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edited: 02.05.2022

Otus siaoensis (Schlegel)

Siau Scops Owl (Otus siaoensis)

The Siau Scops Owl is a highly threatened, very likely already extinct owl species that was endemic to the island of Siau north of Sulawesi, Indonesia; it is known only from the type specimen that had been collected in 1866.

The species reached a size of 17 cm.

The Siau Scops Owl is closely related to the Sulawesi Scops Owl (Otus manadensis (Quoy & Gaimard)) (see photo below) and was for some time considered a subspecies of it but is now regarded as a distinct species.

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Sulawesi Scops Owl (Otus manadensis)

Photo: A. S. Kono

(under creative commons license (3.0))
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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edited: 02.05.2022

Ninox sp. ‘New Caledonia’

New Caledonian Boobook (Ninox sp.)

This taxon is known only from subfossil remains that were found in the deposits of at least two caves on the western coast of the island of Grande Terre, New Caledonia.

This form is believed to be extinct, however, there’s a slight chance that it may still survive, since the nocturnal avifauna of the New Caledonian islands still is very much underexplored.

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edited: 05.11.2021

Ninox novaeseelandiae ssp. undulata (Latham)

Norfolk Island Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae ssp. undulata)

The Norfolk Island Boobook was described in 1801; it was endemic to Norfolk Island, where it inhabited the subtropical rainforests.

The taxon disappeared after the European settlers begun to clear the forests.

The population was reduced to a last surviving bird in 1986, a female bird named Miamiti, which died in 1996.

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This female mated with a male boobook of the nominate race that had been introduced to Norfolk Island and produced some offspring, which again has given rise to the small population of hybrid boobooks that now inhabit this island.

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Depiction from: ‘Gregory M. Mathews: The Birds of Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands and the Australian south polar quadrant with additions to “The Birds of Australia”. London: H. F. & G. Witherby 1928’

(public domain)

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edited: 05.11.2021

Ninox albifacies ssp. albifacies (G. R. Gray)

South Island Laughing Owl (Ninox albifacies ssp. albifacies)

The South Island Laughing Owl, as its name implies, was found on the southern main islands of New Zealand.

The species reached a size of about 32 cm; it is also known as whēkau, which is one of its Maori names, or as White-faced Owl.

Originally, the South Island Laughing Owl fed on birds and especially on geckos and skinks, whose subfossil remains still can be found at former roost sites, after the arrival of human settlers it also took mice and rats, and actually there exists at least one photograph that shows an owl with a mouse in its beak.

The species died out sometimes during the early 1920s.

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Depiction from: ‘George Dawson Rowley: Birds of New Zealand. Part 1. Ornithological Miscellany 1: 1.18. 1876’

(public domain)

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edited: 05.11.2021

Otus mauli Rando, Pieper, Alcover & Olson

Madeiran Scops Owl (Otus mauli)

The Madeiran Scops Owl was described in 2012 based on subfossil remains that were recovered from Quaternary deposits on the island of Madeira.

The species was a largely ground-dwelling bird that, however, wasn’t flightless.

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References:

[1] Juan Carlos Rando; Harald Pieper; Josep Antoni Alcover; & Storrs L. Olson: A new species of extinct fossil scops owl (Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Otus) from the Archipelago of Madeira (North Atlantic Ocean). Zootaxa. 3182: 29-42. 2012

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edited: 02.05.2022

Ninox novaeseelandiae ssp. albaria (Ramsay)

Lord Howe Island Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae ssp. albaria)

 

The Lord Howe Island Boobook was endemic to Lord Howe Island, where it inhabited the dense rainforests.

It was larger than the nominate form from New Zealand, and should probably rather be considered a distinct species.

Like so many other bird species from Lord Howe Island, also this owl species was severely affected by the grounding of the steamship ‘SS Makambo’ in 1918 which led to a literal flooding of the island by ship rats which killed many of the birds but especially destroyed their nests and eggs; additionally at least two Australian owl species, Australian Boobooks (Ninox boobook (Latham)) and Australian Masked Owls (Tyto novaehollandiae (Stephens)), were imported to Lord Howe Island in the 1920s to get rid of the rat plague, these owl species may also have taken their toll on the endemic form.

The Lord Howe Boobook might have survived into the 1950s when boobook calls were heard; these calls however, may also have come from the Australian Booboock, which apparently has since also vanished from the island.

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Depiction from: ‘Gregory M. Mathews: The Birds of Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands and the Australian south polar quadrant with additions to “The Birds of Australia”. London: H. F. & G. Witherby 1928’

(public domain)

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edited: 05.11.2021

Ninox albifacies ssp. rufifacies (Buller)

North Island Laughing Owl (Ninox albifacies ssp. rufifacies)

The North Island Laughing Owl, described in 1904, inhabited the North Island of New Zealand; it is said to have differed from the nominate race by its more rufous feathers.

The species was already rare in the 19th century after having been widespread in earlier times.

The owl was last seen in 1989.

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Depiction from: ‘Walter Lawry Buller: Supplement to the ‘Birds of New Zealand’ Vol. 2. London: the author 1905’

(public domain)

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edited: 05.11.2021

Grallistrix auceps (Olson & James)

Kauai Stilt-Owl (Grallistrix auceps)  

The Kaua’i Stilt-Owl is one of four species of the so-called stilt-owls, that were formerly endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.  

These owl species had elongated legs and may have had a rather terrestrial lifestyle, their wings were somewhat abbreviated, but they were still able to fly.  

In prehistoric times (before the arrival of the first Polynesians) the stilt-owls were the main predators of smaller bird species on the Hawaiian Islands – in fact most of the now extinct Hawaiian bird species are known from bones that were extracted from subfossil owl pellets found at ancient owl roosting sites.  

The stilt-owls were probably ground-breeding birds, as it is indicated by several subfossil findings, thus, their eggs were perhaps an easy meal for the Pacific Rats (Rattus exulans (Peale)), that had been introduced by the first Polynesian settlers.  

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All species, including the Kauai Stilt-Owl, are known from subfossil bones alone.  

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References:  

[1] Storrs L. Olson & Helen F. James: Descriptions of thirty-two new species of birds from the Hawaiian Islands: Part I. Non-Passeriformes. In: Ornithological Monographs 45. 1991

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edited: 17.10.2020