Giant scops owl
|Giant scops owl|
|Synonyms|| Mimizuk gurneyi|
|Population||3,500-15,000 (2013 est.)|
The giant scops owl (Otus gurneyi), also known as the red owl, lesser eagle-owl, or Mindanao eagle-owl, is a fairly large, relatively contrasting colored owl species from the family of Strigidae. It is an endemic of the Philippines and is confined to the three islands of Mindanao, Dinagat, and Siargao. The species inhabits the original tropical rainforest and secondary forest. It is classified as "vulnerable" by the IUCN because of rapidly advancing forest destruction.
Giant scops owls are quite large owls, with a length of 11.8 to 13.7 inches, and a wingspan up to 24 inches. Females are slightly larger than males.
The coloration is quite contrasting. In adult birds, the upper body plumage is dark red-brown with black shafts. The outer wings of the shoulders are whitish-beige with black seams. The upper wing coverts are rather dark brown and show black shafts. The wings and tail are lightly brown-brown and dark brown. Breasts and flanks show pale red or brownish spots on a light red-brown background. The belly is white and unmarked.
The feathers on the head are reddish brown and black speckled. The facial disk is light reddish brown and narrowly bordered with black spots. The rest of the head and neck are dark reddish-brown with black shafts. The eyebrows are broadly whitish, outwards more beige, and the feathers forming it are rather large in relation to the rest of the facial disk, forming a distinctive "V" from the base of the beak to the ear tufts. The beak is greenish-yellow to gray-white. The unfeathered toes are pale gray-brown, the claws pale horn-colored with black tips. The iris is brown.
The male's call is a "wuoohk wuoohk ..." sound, somewhat melancholic, and repeated 5-10 times in intervals of 10 to 20 seconds. The individual calls fall in the pitch. The call activity is particularly high between February and May, which may coincide with breeding.
What little is known about this bird is that it is exclusively nocturnal, with a diet probably consisting of small vertebrate animals and larger insects. Breeding is completely unknown, and to this day no nests has been found.
The giant scops owl has been placed in the IUCN Red List as "vulnerable" due to habitat loss. A bird of dense woodlands, the species has been declining in numbers as a result of timber harvesting and clearing for mining operations; all three islands have most of their forested lands under the control of logging and/or mining companies and have suffered heavy forest loss, with the forests on the island of Dinagat almost completely gone, and that of Mindanao reduced to 29%. The island of Samar - a fourth possible area where the bird has been recorded just once - has 724 square miles of forest remaining.