|Population||2,000 (2016 est.)|
The long-whiskered owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi) is a bird of prey of the family Strigidae, and found in restricted areas in Peru. It is one of the world's smallest owls and is also one of its rarest representatives.
The long-whiskered owlet is a very small owl, with a maximum length of 5.5 inches, making it slightly larger than the elf owl (Micrathene whitneyi), the smallest owl on record. It has a relatively uniform gray-brown plumage with clear bright spots spread irregularly over the upper body. In addition to the large reddish-brown eyes, the facial feathers have striking tufts jutting from the sides of the head; their whisker-like appearance gives the bird its name. At the side of the dark gray beak are relatively long, black bristles, some of which end in a dark yellow tip, and it is speculated they have a function in night-time food production. Cream-colored right-angled eyebrows give the owl a slightly grim facial expression. The legs are unfeathered.
Range and habitat
Described in 1963 with the first live ones observed in 1976, the long-whiskered owlet is only found in a relatively small, very impassable mountain rainforest in northwestern Peru, on the eastern slope of the Andes at altitudes between 6,200 and 7,200 feet above sea level. The area is located near the Abra Patricia Pass, which is somewhat isolated, providing some protection for this owl and other endangered species. These mountain rainforest areas are still relatively intact at the moment, but deforestation due to road construction, long-range burns and short-term cultivation and associated extensive erosion progress very rapidly in deeper areas so that the owl's habitats also appear to be endangered in the long term. It is unclear whether the long-whiskered owlet is found in other suitable areas of this ecosystem.
The data on the history of discovery is inconsistent. The species was first described by Dr. George Lowery in 1963 as part of a study on the bird world of Peru. In 1976 and 1978 further specimens were captured in mist-nets by John Patton O'Neill and Gary Russell Graves of Louisiana State University. In 1978, two more individuals were caught in the Cordillera de Colan, about 22 miles west from where they were initially discovered. Since then the species was considered lost. In 2002 they were able to take pictures of one and record its calls, but there were no more outdoor observations for more than two decades. Only in February 2007 were researchers for the American Bird Conservancy and the Associación Ecosistemas Andinos successful. Not far from the first location, the biologists were able to observe the Peruvian Owl three times a day and listen to its calls during the night.
The area where the Peruvian Owl was observed has now become part of a private conservation area owned by the American Bird Conservancy.
While the name glaux is one of the many Greek names for owl, xeno refers to the rarity and strangeness of this bird. The species name is in honor of American ornithologist George Lowery, who is credited with much work on South American avifauna.