Heads turn at new owl species discovered in Oman

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A new owl breed has been discovered in the remote Jebel Akdhar mountains in Oman, ornithologists working in the Gulf state reported this week.

The Scottish wildlife sound-recordist, Magnus Robb, wrote “Strix Omanensis” officially exists from Oct. 4 on the website of “The Sound Approach,” an international project aiming to record and understand bird sounds.

“Shaped like a strix owl, it [the new breed] lacked ear-tufts and appeared slightly smaller-headed than a tawny owl,” Robb described the exotic owl on the project’s website.

Robb first recorded the bird’s unfamiliar hoot during an unexpected discovery in March this year.

“I was listening through my headphones, when Isuddenly heard something completely different [to the owl species I was there to record],” he told BBC News.

He added: “I know the other Arabian owl sounds quite well, and this was clearly something that didn’t fit.”

Robb and his colleague René Pop searched thoroughly to find the mystery bird again the next night, but no avail.

“It was only on the last night of our trip that we heard it again. We had to leave for the airport with the unseen owl hooting up on a cliff.”

But after more research trips and critical analysis, the Sound Approach concluded that the new owl was the first bird species to be discovered in the region since 77 years.

“It seems unimaginable that this owl could have led a secret existence until now, but I was in a remote location and I guess not many people have thought to go there at night,” Gulf News quoted Robb as saying.

The observations already published in the journal Dutch Birding. Robb and his colleagues so far found only seven of the birds in a single valley in the desolate, mountainous area.

Robb will return to Oman later this year to learn more about the owl.

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