Karthala scops owl
or
Grand Comoro Scops-Owl
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Otus
Species:
O. pauliani
Binomial name
Otus pauliani

(Benson, 1960)

The Karthala scops owl (Otus pauliani), also known as Grand Comoro scops owl or Comoro scops owl, is a small, scops owl endemic to the island of Grande Comore in the Comoro Islands.

Description

The Karthala scops owl lacks ear tufts and come in two colour forms, a light morph and a dark morph. The light morph is dark greyish brown on the upperparts with fine barring and pale spots along the scapulars. The underparts are reddish buff with a dense pattern of fine barring on the flight feathers and tail. The dark morph is overall dark chocolate brown but no specimen of a dark morph individual has been taken. It measures approximately 20 cm (7.9 in) in length and the wingspan is 45 cm (18 in).

Voice

A whistled “toot” which is given repeatedly with one second intervals.

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to the island of Grande Comore, the Karthala scops owl is found only on Mount Karthala, an active volcano. Here it inhabits the montane forest, some secondary growth and the tree heath above the forest.

Habits

Nocturnal and very territorial, the Karthala scops owl will approach an imitation of its call, otherwise almost unknown. It has relatively weak talons so probably feeds on insects and other invertebrates. It is though to nest in tree cavities.

Status and population

It has an estimated population of 2,000. It is classified as endangered due to it being restricted to such a small area, which is being rapidly deforested.

Taxonomy

The Karthala scops owl was formerly considered to be a subspecies of the Madagascar scops owl Otus rutilus, but with the other Comoro Islands scops owls it is now regarded as a separate species.