Filed in Animal by on December 2, 2010

Strange ‘long-whiskered owl’ spotted in Peru

The strange whiskered owl had not been spotted for 26 years

A group of twitchers in Peru have caught a rare glimpse of a bizarre-looking bird not seen for 26 years.

The bird-watchers spotted a long-whiskered owlet, a species first discovered in 1976 that has remained largely out of sight since.

The tiny species, Xenoglaux loweryi, has long bristles around its beak, and delicate feathers that extend into whiskers.

Its formal Latin name actually means “strange owl”.

The visitors had a once-in-a-lifetime birding experience

Sara Lara
American Bird Conservancy

The tour group spotted the owlet in the Abra Patricia Reserve in northern Peru, an area of habitat protected by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and its partner conservation organisation in Peru, ECOAN.

The long-whiskered owlet is listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, because of its very limited range of approximately 73 square miles.

The bird’s habitat is restricted to cloud forests – moist, tropical forests characterised by frequent low cloud cover.

The area it does inhabit is under threat from deforestation, according to the ABC.

Sara Lara, International Programs Director for the ABC, said: “The long-whiskered owlet is nocturnal, only lives in this area, and exists in very small numbers, [so] the visitors had a once-in-a-lifetime birding experience.”

“We are now starting to understand more about its habits and hopefully in the future more people will be able to see this, one of the ultimate birds for any birder.”


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