Jan 25, 2015 by Sergio Prostak
A group of ornithologists led by Dr Manuel Schweizer from the Natural History Museum of Bern in Switzerland has described a new cryptic species of owl that inhabits the desert areas of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Yemen.
The Desert Tawny Owl (Strix hadorami).
Image credit: © Rony Lybanah.
The newly-discovered species, named the Desert Tawny Owl, belongs to theearless owl genus, Strix.
It is a medium-sized owl, 30 to 33 centimeters long, and weighing 140 to 220 grams. It resembles the Hume’s Owl (Strix butleri) and the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) in plumage pattern and proportions.
The species’ scientific name, Strix hadorami, honors Israeli ornithologist and writer Hadoram Shirihai.
“It is a special pleasure to name this bird for Hadoram Shirihai, a much-valued colleague and collaborator for 20 years,” Dr Schweizer and his colleagues wrote in a paper in the journal Zootaxa.
“Although Hadoram’s ornithological interests are staggeringly wide-ranging, his name is arguably particularly synonymous with this wonderful owl of wild places in the Middle East. He discovered, when still a young boy, a live but poisoned specimen (of the Desert Tawny Owl) in En Gedi, which became the first individual to be held in captivity and is now a skeleton in the Tel Aviv University Museum.”