Owls of the Arabian Peninsula

This video from Oman says about itself:

18 June 2015

Saeed and I left Salalah at 7.15pm and headed to Wadi Darbat in the Dhofar Mountains, spotlighting for night-active animals and owls.

Half-way along the flat far bit of the wadi we heard a strange screeching call on the south side of the road. We could not identify it and went by foot to locate the origin.

It turned out to be an immature Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl, Bubo (africanus) milesi.

We left the bird in peace and it continued to call from the same area for another hour. No adults were seen or heard.

Hopefully Saeed made it back there the next night to record it; I was by then well on my way back to Dubai.

From BirdLife, with photos there:

Birds of the Arabian Night

By Faisal Hajwal, 16 Oct 2016

When the Sun begins to set on the Middle East, the majority of the region’s birdlife settle down to roost for the night. Yet for others, the day is just beginning. We are of course talking about owls – those nocturnal birds of prey that bewitch us with their secrets and unusual behaviours.

We are all surely all familiar with owls; this large and distinctive order of around 234 species spreads its wings across the world, and can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Despite the existence of such an enormous number of species, the Arabian Peninsula is host to a relatively small number of owls that are considered either resident, transient or migrant.

Nonetheless, these charismatic birds have left their mark on the psyche of the region. In some Middle Eastern cultures, owls are often associated with death and ruin, and are said to represent the souls of those who have died unavenged. For this reason, owls are often considered bad luck in this part of the world, but this perception may be changing, particularly among the region’s farmers. Incredibly effective predators who are specially adapted for night hunting, owls offer great environmental services for humans, reducing the population growth of rodents and helping to maintain an ecological balance.

Because owls are generally active at night, they have a highly developed hearing system and extraordinary night vision. The forward facing aspect of the eyes gives the owl its “wise” appearance, but also more practically gives it tremendous depth perception. Additionally, their eyes are very efficient at collecting and processing light, allowing it to hunt effectively in dark conditions. In addition to that, owls have specialized feathers that enable near-silent flight by altering air turbulence and absorbing noise.

Owl size and weight varies greatly among owl species, with the Great Grey Owl, which is considered the largest species of owl, weighing up to approximately 3 kg with a length reaching up to 76 cm. Other species are very small, with a length that does not exceed 14 cm and weigh 40 g. Although the Arabian Peninsula isn’t typically considered an owl hotspot, these stunning images show that the few species that do make the region their home perfectly illustrate the variety and charisma of this iconic bird family.

Pharaoh Eagle Owl (Bubo ascalaphus)

This striking species, with its eyes as orange as the richest sand dune, is found across most of the Peninsula and in particular the east coast. Also known as the Eagle or Pharaonic Owl, it is the largest species in the area. Its size is about 68 cm, with a wingspan reaching up to 147 cm. It lives in desert environments and use rocky formations cavities as a nest.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)

Resident throughout the year and considered the most common species in the region. It is medium-sized with a length reaching 35 cm, and 89 cm wing span. It is easily distinguishable from the rest of other species, with its heart-shaped face and piercing black eyes. True to its name, it likes to nests in abandoned buildings, especially ceilings and concrete gaps. …

Pallid Scops Owl (Otus brucei)

A rare resident, known in Arabic as the Striped Trees Owl. Small, with a length not exceeding 20 cm and 50 cm wing span. It is a resident to the eastern regions of the Peninsula; however, it is not common. It nests in tree holes, often in arid foothills and rocky gorges, but can be found in urban gardens, too. According to our research there is no certain record for its breeding time. In winter, it migrates to the north-western regions of the Indian subcontinent.

Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops)

A migrant that is resident in several countries and regions such as northern India, northern Iran, Turkey and the Mediterranean basin. It migrates in winter to Africa, its route running across the peninsula. It is significantly exposed to hunting during the season of migration.

Little Owl (Athene noctua)

Uncommon resident, also known as the small owl or the ringed owl. It reaches 22 cm in length and is often seen in the daytime. Marked by rows of sand colour and a rounded head. It is recorded breeding in most of the Gulf States. It is a widespread species, with a range that spreads from the UK to Eastern China, but the subspecies Athene noctua lilith, which is a softer sandy colour, is found only in this region.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

A rare winter visitor, also known as the Short-Eared owl or the Deaf Owl. Length may reach up to 38 cm. It has been recorded in most of the Gulf States but in low numbers. It prefers open, marshy countryside, where it is active both day and night, flying a few feet above ground and often hovering over prey before pouncing.

Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)

Its size is similar to its shorter-eared cousin, with a length that reaches up 36 cm. This agile predator prefers to roost in woodland, stretching its wings and body to disguise itself as a tree branch. Its migration route does not pass the Arabian Peninsula region, with very few observations in some Gulf countries, such as Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Owls’ nest visitors in Georgia, USA

This video from Georgia in the USA says about itself:

Great Horned Owl Checks Out Savannah Nest – Sept. 30, 2016

Look who stopped by the Savannah Great Horned Owl Cam this weekend! Is this a sign of things to come for next year? Great Horned Owls don’t build their own nests; instead, they rely on nests that were previously constructed by other birds, such as this former Bald Eagle nest.

A chosen nest will usually only last for one year because the owls provide no maintenance to it and next to nothing remains at the end of the season. Luckily, this well-constructed site has already provided viewers with two breeding seasons on cam, and, as a bonus, Ospreys have been adding sticks and maintaining the nest over the past few months. Here’s hoping the owls give a “hoot” about the nestorations and return for another year!

This video from the USA says about itself:

Loggerhead Shrike Close-up in Savannah Oct. 3, 2016

This clip shows an up close and personal visit from a Loggerhead Shrike to the Savannah Great Horned Owl Cam. Chalk up another interesting bird to the list of guests that have shared the spotlight on cam this year. The Loggerhead Shrike is an amazing thick-bodied song bird that encompasses the tendencies of a raptor. They are lethal hunters of insects, small mammals, reptiles, and other birds.

Shrikes are notorious for their hunting techniques, as they’re known for impaling larger prey on thorns or barbed wire. They are also equipped with hooked bills flanked with cutting edges down the side of the upper beak, known as tomium, which they aren’t using for cracking nuts!

This video from the USA says about itself:

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on Windy Savannah Afternoon – Oct. 5, 2016

Watch this juvenile Red-tailed hawk glide onto the Great Horned Owl nest on a Savannah afternoon. Notice how the blustering winds make navigation around the nest a bit difficult for the young hawk.

This video from Georgia in the USA says about itself:

American Crow Interrupts Osprey‘s Lunch – Oct. 5, 2016

In this clip, an Osprey is enjoying a mid-day fish until an obnoxious American Crow alights on an adjacent branch. Obviously irritated by this intrusion, the Osprey tries its best to intimidate the crow into moving along. The crow, however, remains unfazed and leaves on its own accord.

Watch LIVE at AllAboutBirds.org/GreatHornedOwls.

Injured barn owl can fly again

Injured barn owl with her wing with prosthesis, photo by L1/Julian Buijzen

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Limburg burned barn owl can fly again with prosthesis

14 September 2016, 23:48

A barn owl which was burned seriously this spring can fly again from today on thanks to a prosthesis.

In April there was a pigsty on fire at Lilbosch Abbey in the Limburg town Echt. The pigs in the barn survived the fire, but a family of barn owls was less fortunate. The chicks died and mother barn owl was seriously injured. The male was unharmed.


The female was taken to a bird rescue center in Belgium. She had damaged lungs, burned legs and the plumage was badly damaged by the flames.

In recent months, the bird was patched up. A part of the feathers were pulled out, so that they were able to grow anew. But pieces of the wings were so badly damaged that it appeared that the owl would never be able to fly again. However, the shelter found a solution: prosthetics.

To the wings parts of wings of a dead owl were attached. When these had become attached firmly it turned out that the female could fly well with them.

Abbey nest

The male meanwhile was hanging around all the time at the abbey. Today the female was brought back there.

The couple has been given a brand new nest box, once again high on the wall of the barn.

Barn owls are cavity-nesting birds of prey but they do not create their own nest holes. Instead, they frequently use cavities from other birds or hollow trees, and they readily move into open buildings or nest boxes. With the right barn owl box, it is possible to encourage barn owls to become permanent residents in your backyard or elsewhere on your larger property: here.

Short-eared owl video

This is a short-eared owl video from the Netherlands.

Diet of Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) in desert area at Hassi El Gara (El Golea, Algeria): here.

Screech owl camouflage in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

11 September 2016

Eastern Screech Owls do an amazing job of blending in with the trees they select to perch on – this is a great example of a red morph female who have a little more challenge finding a place to blend in. In this case the reddish and tan colors of mature Palmetto Palms do just fine. This video is un-altered so you can see the natural contrast and colors. It is rare that I see them outside of the breeding season when their activity is focused on the nest box. But once in awhile I’ll find one on their favorite perch outside the breeding season. She is sitting on the end of a broken branch and if threatened will transform her appearance to a tree branch.

Young little owl in old milk churn, photo

Little owl in churn

This photo shows a young little owl which sat down in an old milk churn.

The photo is by ThijsG in Gelderland province in the Netherlands.

Little owl sees cat, video

This 11 August 2016 video shows a little owl. It sees a cat; and calls to warn its owlets.

Maria Woortman in the Netherlands made this video.