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Giant Scops Owl
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Information
Common Name Lesser Eagle-owl and Mindanao Eagle-owl
Range Philippines
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Strigiformes
Family Strigidae
Genus Otus
Species Otus gurneyi
Conservation Status
VUSpecies
Vulnerable

The Giant scops owl (Otus gurneyi), also known as the lesser eagle-owl and Mindanao eagle-owl, is a species of scops owl in the Strigidae family. It is endemic to the Philippines. In size and structure, it is considered intermediate between a scops owl and an eagle-owl. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Taxonomy

The giant scops owl was originally described as Pseudoptynx gurneyi, and later as Mimizuku gurneyi. It is now part of the genus Otus.

Description

The giant scops owl is a medium-sized bird with a length of about 30 centimetres (12 in). It has a reddish-brown facial disc with a narrow black edge, white streaks above the eyes and prominent ear tufts. The back of the head and the upperparts of the body are reddish-brown boldly marked with black streaks and with a line of white streaks on the scapulars. The underparts are whitish with traces of reddish brown and bold black markings. The voice is a series of five to ten calls, "wuaah, wuaah..." with the series repeated at ten to twenty second intervals.

Distribution and Habitat

The giant scops owl is known only from the islands of Dinagat, Siargao and Mindanao in the Philippines. Its habitat is primary and secondary forests, mostly at an altitude of under 670 metres (2,200 ft) although it has been seen up to 1,300 metres (4,300 ft). It sometimes frequents partially logged forests of Dipterocarpaceae species.

Status and Conservation

The giant scops owl is rated as "Vulnerable" by the IUCN in its Red List of Threatened Species. This is because the population is declining as its forest habitat is destroyed by deforestation and by the mining of chromite. This bird was never a common species and it is thought that in 1999 there were between 3,500 and 15,000 individuals remaining. Of the three islands on which it is found, Dinagat has been almost completely denuded of forest, while on Samar and Mindanao almost all the remaining forest is leased to mining or logging companies. The charity "Endangered Species International" is using this owl and other endangered species on a trail in the Mount Matutum protected area to teach local people and visitors to the Philippines about the importance of preserving the habitat.

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