Ablot Serendib Scops Owl

The Serendib scops owl (Otus thilohoffmanni) is Sri Lanka’s most recently discovered bird.
“It is the first new bird to be discovered in Sri Lanka since 1868, when the Sri Lanka whistling thrush (Myophonus blighi) was discovered.
The Serendib scops owl lives in the southern rain forests of Sri Lanka.
It is likely to be found in five protected areas, including Sri Lanka’s Forest Reserve and the Proposed Reserve.
This endangered species lives in the rain forests of southwestern Sri Lanka.

Where Are They Live?

Serendib-Scops-Owl - Habitat Map

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Megalaimidae
Genus: Psilopogon
Species: P. Rubricapillus
Binomial Name: Psilopogon Rubricapillus

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Facts About Serendib Scops Owl

The Serendib scops owl (Otus thilohoffmanni) is Sri Lanka’s most recently discovered bird. Deepal Warakagoda, a well-known Sri Lankan ornithologist, discovered it in the Kitulgala rainforest thanks to its unusual poo-ooo call. Six years later, on 23 January 2001 in Sinharaja, he finally saw it, and it was formally identified as a species new to science in 2004. Aside from Sinharaja and Kitulgala, it has also been discovered in Morapitiya’s Runakanda Reserve and Eratna Gilimale. In Sinhala, he is known as “Paduwan Bassa.”

It is the first new bird to be discovered in Sri Lanka since 1868, when the Sri Lanka whistling thrush (Myophonus blighi) was discovered. It is also the 24th (or 27th, according to some authorities) indigenous bird species in Sri Lanka.

The Serendib scops owl lives in the southern rain forests of Sri Lanka. The altitude ranges from 30 to 50 meters. This owl has no competition from other night species since their territories are so dissimilar. This species has a relatively limited population; only 80 were reported to survive by the end of January 2006. It is likely to be found in five protected areas, including Sri Lanka’s Forest Reserve and the Proposed Reserve. They appear to be diminishing as a result of habitat loss and degradation. The owl hunts for food during the first two hours of darkness.

This endangered species lives in the rain forests of southwestern Sri Lanka. It is exclusively nocturnal, like most owls, and hunts insects (such as beetles and moths) close to the ground. It begins calling at dusk and increases in frequency two hours before morning.

It lacks ear tufts and has a weakly defined facial disc, unlike the other two scops owl species in Sri Lanka, Indian scops owl (Otus bakkamoena) and oriental scops owl (Otus sunia). The overall color of this 16.5 cm tall, short-tailed owl is reddish-brown with whiter underparts and subtle black patterns all over. The irides are golden yellow (more orangish in males) with pale fleshy feet. Tarsi are only feathered for around half of their length. The claws and bill are ivory in color.

Taxonomic Status

In 2006 and 2007, two publications published in the journal Loris by Sri Lankan ornithologists questioned whether the Serendib scops owl was a separate species from other scops owl species discovered in India, and if so, whether it was a new finding or a rediscovery.

In their future publications, two of the writers who had previously speculated on the species’ “taxonomic uncertainty” in the papers cited above recognized it as a legitimate and separate species.

In Culture

This bird can be found on 20 rupee Sri Lankan banknote (2010 series).

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