New Owl Species Discovered

The BBC has reported recently that ornithologists working in Oman say an owl discovered in a remote, mountainous region of the country could be a new species. 

Wildlife sound-recordist Magnus Robb told BBC News that he heard the bird's call whilst trying to record the call of another type of owl. "I was listening through my headphones, when I suddenly heard something completely different. I know the other Arabian owl sounds quite well, and this was clearly something that didn't fit."

"I had a good inkling straight away that this could be something new and even phoned a colleague a few minutes later and said, 'I think I've just discovered a new species of owl."

Mr Robb was recording in Oman with a colleague, naturalist and photographer Arnoud van den Berg who captured photographs of the bird, which is thought to be related to the European Tawny Owl. Mr Robb is involved in an international project called The Sound Approach which aims to catalogue and understand bird sound.

He went on to say: "One of the reasons we've gone through (the) process of describing and confirming this as a new species so quickly is to get conservation for this owl as soon as possible. Conservation can only start when this species is accepted and given some official status"

According to Dr Wesley Hochachka from Cornell University's lab of ornithology, that it is "more accepted by ornithologists, particularly in tropical areas, that new species are being discovered based on distinctively different vocalisations"

Meanwhile Prof Ian Newton, a bird expert from the UK's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: "Based on the recordings of songs and calls and on the good-quality photographs, I was also convinced that it should be placed within the genus Strix, which also contains the Tawny Owl of Britain and Europe."

For the full story, visit The BBC website here. Photographs of the bird can be seen at Mr van den Berg's Facebook page here.