Other names: Beccari Scops Owl
IDENTIFICATION: A medium-sized scops owl (c.25cm) with prominent ear-tufts, lacking any trace of dark shaft-streaks but with a few fine streaks on forecrown. Barred overall (except on mantle) with light and dark; hindneck may have an indistinct collar of blackish and pale bars; occurs in rufous-brown and dark morphs. Eyes yellow.
Similar species Moluccan Scops Owl is distinctly streaked dark below and above. Mantanani Scops Owl has a more distinctly rimmed facial disc, has underparts marked with shaft-streaks, and also differs vocally. Nicobar Scops Owl is much drabber, with more barred crown and mantle, and well-banded tertials and tail.
VOCALISATIONS: The male’s song is a sequence of hoarse croaking notes, similar to that of Moluccan Scops Owl, but lower in pitch.
DISTRIBUTION: Endemic to Biak Island off NW New Guinea.
HABITAT: Dense forest and wooded areas; locally near human settlements.
DESCRIPTION: Adult Typical morph has blackish barring overall, alternating with white. Rufous-brown morph predominantly cinnamon-rufous with white barring below, cinnamon-brown above, and finely vermiculated. Facial disc pale brownish, indistinctly rimmed by a blackish edge and whitish spots. Ear-tufts moderately long and finely barred dusky.
Crown finely barred blackish, with few fine streaks on forecrown; nape barred blackish and white or pale buffish, forming indistinct collar. Upperparts brown, rather densely barred, and mottled blackish and whitish. Outer webs of scapulars mainly white, with a few black bars and black-fringed, forming a row of whitish spots across the shoulder. Flight and tail feathers barred dusky and pale.
Throat white, finely vermiculated blackish; rest of underparts paler brown, densely barred blackish and pale buff; practically without shaft-streaks. Tarsi feathered almost to the base of toes, latter bare. Juvenile Unknown. Bare parts Eyes yellow. Bill dusky horn. Cere pale horn and toes dirty yellowish with Claws dusky horn.
MEASUREMENTS AND WEIGHT Total Length: c.25cm.
Wing: 170–172mm, tail 79– 84mm. Weight: no data.
GEOGRAPHICAL VARIATION: Monotypic.
HABITS: Strictly nocturnal.
FOOD: Chiefly insects and spiders, but probably also small vertebrates.
BREEDING: Nests in holes in trees. The pure white eggs are laid directly on the floor of the nesting hole.
STATUS AND CONSERVATION: This species is only known from three specimens and a few sight records. Much of the forest on Biak has been destroyed or degraded, posing a serious threat to the long-term survival of this little-known species. Vulnerable. REMARKS Despite the similarity of its song to that of Moluccan Scops Owl, we consider beccarii a full species because of its strikingly different plumage and its allopatric and isolated distribution.
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Reference – Owls of the World – by Claus Kِnig and Friedhelm Weick