Heartening news in a world where we hear a lot about environmental degradation and an increasing number of species facing extinction. In a recent press release, the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) revealed that a very rare species of owl, first discovered in 1976, was noticed by researchers at the Area de Conservacion Privada de Abra Patricia – Alto Nieva, a private conservation area in a North Peru jungle, in February. This is only the first time that the owlet has been spotted in the wild; before this the species had only been caught in nets.
The tiny bird was actually spotted on as many as three occasions in broad daylight and at nighttime the calls of the bird were recorded by the team of researchers. The spotting of the tiny owl “is considered a holy grail of South American ornithology.” The researchers also managed to capture a bird, photograph it and then set it free.
The cute little owl because of its rarity has been assigned the genus ‘Xenoglaux‘. ‘Xenoglaux’ means ‘strange owl’. To the ornithologists this owlet is indeed strange because of the long wispy feathers around its reddish-brown eyes.
A very elated David Geale of the Association of Andean Ecosystems and a member of the team of researchers who spotted the owl said:
Seeing the long-whiskered owlet is a huge thrill. Its population is estimated to be less than 1,000 birds and possibly as few as 250. Due to the rapid destruction of its forest habitat and its tiny range, it is inferred that the species is in serious decline. Until recently, the owlet’s key habitat was completely unprotected.
But Hugo Arnal, ABC’s Tropical Andes Program Director, added:
The creation of the Area de Conservacion Privada de Abra Patricia – Alto Nieva, located in the Northern end of the Peruvian Yungas ecosystem, provides protection for the key site for the Long-whiskered Owlet. By establishing a reserve and protecting the owlet’s forest habitat, ABC and its partner ECOAN are giving many other species a chance to survive as well.
All birdwatchers interested in catching a glimpse of the owlet can contact Hugo Arnal at the ABC.