New owl species discovered in Indonesia

Posted By Kristen Butler,  |  Updated Feb. 14, 2013 at 8:57 AM
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A new owl species, Otus jolandae, is the first endemic bird species discovered on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, according to research published February 13 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by an international team headed by George Sangster of the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

In 2003, two members of the team independently discovered that the vocalizations of the owls on Lombok were different from other Indonesian owls. In a statement, Sangster says "it was quite a coincidence that two of us identified this new bird species on different parts of the same island, within a few days of being on the island. That is quite a coincidence, especially considering that no one had noticed anything special about these owls in the previous 100 years."

Based on their field work and analysis, researchers believe that the new owl species is unique to this one island. Locals on the neighboring island of Sumbawa did not recognize the bird. "With one exception, none of the locals recognized the songs from playback of recordings made on Lombok except for one man, but he was an immigrant from Lombok who knew the song only from Lombok and had never heard it on Sumbawa."

The new species of owl is named Otus jolandae, after the wife of one of the researchers who co-discovered the species in 2003. The authors suggest using the common name Rinjani Scops Owl, after Gunung Rinjani, a volcano on Lombok that is the second highest volcano in Indonesia.

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