Brown-and-white Indonesian owl called new species

Associated Press
This undated photo taken by independent researcher Philippe Verbelen and released by online scientific journal PLOS ONE,  shows a Rinjani Scops owl perching on a tree on Lombok island, Indonesia. The new species of owl believed to be found nowhere else in the world was discovered by accident on the Indonesian island when researchers in search of another bird noticed its distinct song. (AP Photo/PLOS ONE, Philippe Verbelen) NO SALES
.

View gallery

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Researchers looking for a nocturnal bird in Indonesia accidentally identified a new species of owl — one that has a distinct song and is believed to exist nowhere else in the world.

The Rinjani Scops owl was first identified in 2003 and has since been spotted only on Lombok island, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the popular resort island of Bali. The findings were published Wednesday in the online journal PLOS ONE.

The small owl, with brown and white feathers and big golden eyes, had been confused with a similar-looking species for more than a century. But scientists from Sweden and the U.S., who were visiting the island doing separate research on another nocturnal bird, both recorded the Rinjani Scops owl's vocalizations. They noticed that its whistled note was entirely different from other songs, including that of the widespread Moluccan Scops owl, or Otus magicus.

"I am surprised that the true identity of this bird has remained hidden from the scientific world for so long," George Sangster, lead author from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, said in an email. "The Rihnjani Scops owl is quite common and can be found on various parts of the island. It is also very vocal, so it is hard to miss."

He said the discovery was not published for 10 years due to the work needed to verify the finding.

The researchers reviewed all previous work and museum specimens dating to 1896. They found a report mentioning the Rinjani Scops owl's tone, which differs from the barking cry of the Moluccan Scops owl. However, plumage, size and shape were primarily used to identify species until the late 1970s when vocalizations were added. Lombok also remained less visited by bird researchers than other parts of Indonesia, which may explain why it took longer for the Rinjani Scops owl to be identified.

"Now that there is a beautiful owl known only from this island, we hope that more bird watchers will visit Lombok," Sangster said. "Ornithologists have long patted themselves on the back, believing that the taxonomy of birds is 'almost complete.' With each new discovery, this becomes less credible. It underscores that even after 150 years of scientific study we still do not know all the birds in the Indo-Malayan region."

More fieldwork was conducted to determine that the Rinjani Scops owl — named Otus jolandae after Sangster's wife who first discovered the species with him — was not found elsewhere. However, Sangster said more investigation is need to completely rule out the bird's existence in extreme western Sumbawa, a neighboring island.

The owl has long been known by Indonesian bird experts, but they too believed it was part of the more widespread species.

"We are proud of this new discovery as it has added another endemic species in Indonesia," said Yoppy Hidayanto, coordinator of Burung Indonesia, a bird conservation group in Bogor, West Java. "There are still so many things that could be explored about birds in Indonesia."

The new owl's English name comes from Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second-highest volcano, located on Lombok.

View Comments (1)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

    AFP
  • Central Florida man killed by police serving search warrant

    By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A 26-year-old Central Florida man died after being shot in the face early on Wednesday morning by a sheriff’s deputy attempting to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation, authorities said. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported in a…

    Reuters
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • Chad president tells Boko Haram leader to surrender or face death

    By Madjiasra Nako N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - President Idriss Deby of Chad said on Wednesday he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, and called on him to surrender or risk being killed. Chad's army has waged a series of battles against Boko Haram…

    Reuters
  • Passengers use emergency slides after landing in Denver

    DENVER (AP) — Passengers on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, were forced to slide off the plane on emergency chutes soon after landing in Denver on Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

    AFP
  • France, Cameroon wouldn't take foreigner later shot by LAPD

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless foreigner shot to death by Los Angeles police was in the country illegally after serving time for a bank robbery but couldn't be deported because no country would take him, U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • View

    Turkish jetliner skids off on runway (9 photos)

    A Turkish Airlines jet landing in dense fog in the Nepalese capital Wednesday skidded off a slippery runway but there were no serious injuries, officials said. Officials at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan International Airport said the plane with 238 people on board was coming from Istanbul when the…

    Yahoo News
  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

    AFP
  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

    Reuters
  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

    AFP
  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

    Reuters
  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

    Takepart.com
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP56 mins ago
  • Survivor testifies about 2 friends stabbed, bound, drowned

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who survived being beaten, bound, stabbed in the neck and kicked into the Schuylkill River took the stand in a hearing Tuesday and described the night his two friends lost their lives.

    Associated Press
  • Student Shot With BB Gun On Campus Shocked by University`s Reaction

    A student at Norfolk State University says she was shot with a BB gun and hit with a bottle of urine outside of a all-male dorm room on campus, but says the school offered little help to her or other students when she contacted them.

    Tribune
  • Senate fails to override Obama's veto of Keystone XL approval

    By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the controversial project to await an administration decision on whether to permit or deny it. The Senate mustered…

    Reuters
  • Paris Hilton brother Conrad to plead guilty to plane assault

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paris Hilton's youngest brother, Conrad, agreed to plead guilty to assaulting flight attendants on a trip from London to Los Angeles last year when authorities say he called other passengers "peasants" and threatened to kill crew members.

    Associated Press