Arabian Scops Owl – Tanoumah



Whilst birdwatching the Tanoumah area in summer 2018 I managed to hear a number of Arabian Scops Owls Otus pamelae and photograph one. The has recently been split as a distinct species from O. s. senegalensis. Recent work (Pons et al 2013) has shown African Scops Owl, represents a very distinct lineage and is well differentiated phylogenetically, morphologically and vocally fromO. s. senegalensis.

As a result it has been recommend to elevate it to species status, as Otus pamelae. The reasons for this are this southern Arabian taxon is highly divergent from African senegalensis (uncorrected-p mitochondrial genetic distance = 4%). The song of pamelaeis very different from that of Eurasian Scops Owl O. scopsand Pallid Scops Owl O. brucei but more similar to that of O. senegalensis. It nevertheless differs from the latter’s song in being higher pitched, sounding ‘scratchier’ and having more prolonged notes; the song sounds two-parted, due to the much quieter first note.

In terms of biometrics, results clearly suggest that pamelaeis longer winged and longer legged than mainland African populations of senegalensis. In comparison with populations of O. senegalens is in continental Africa, Arabian pamelaeis distinguished in being paler overall, with less distinct streaking over the underparts and a less obvious whitish line on the scapulars. Arabian Scops Owls possess several diagnostic genetic and phenotypic characters and it is therefore consider the most appropriate taxonomic treatment is to recognize as a species and not as a subspecies of O. senegalensisas it was originally described based solely on morphological data.

This change means that becomes a new Arabian endemic, found in South-west Saudi Arabia, South-west Yemen and north-east to southern Oman and is now no longer found in Arabia but instead occurs in parts of Ethiopia, Eritrea & Somalia.

 

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Jem Babbington

Jem Babbington

Jem Babbington is a keen birder and amateur photographer located in Dhahran, Eastern Saudi Arabia where he goes birding every day. Jem was born in England and is a serious local patch and local area birder who has been birding for almost forty years and has birded in more than fifty countries. Jem is learning to ring birds in Bahrain as a perfect way to learn more about the birds of the area. Saudi Arabia is a very much under-watched and under-recorded country.

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Jem Babbington

Jem Babbington

Jem Babbington is a keen birder and amateur photographer located in Dhahran, Eastern Saudi Arabia where he goes birding every day. Jem was born in England and is a serious local patch and local area birder who has been birding for almost forty years and has birded in more than fifty countries. Jem is learning to ring birds in Bahrain as a perfect way to learn more about the birds of the area. Saudi Arabia is a very much under-watched and under-recorded country.

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