Kies Nederlands Switch to English
Roze Spreeuw

Even geduld...

New species of pygmy owl

Although new bird species are regularly described from various parts of the globe, South America apparently holds most hidden ornithological treasures. Another example of this is the description of a new species of pygmy owl, Pernambuco Pygmy Owl Glaucidium mooreorum (da Silva, J M C, Coelho, G & Gonzaga, L P 2002. Discovered on the brink of extinction: a new species of Pygmy-Owl (Strigidae: Glaucidium) from Atlantic Forest of northeastern Brazil. Ararajuba 10: 123-130). Its description was based on two study skins collected in Pernambuco, north-eastern Brazil. The skins were originally collected in 1980 and at the time thought to represent (a subspecies of) Least Pygmy Owl G minutissimum or Amazonian Pygmy Owl G hardyi, both from south-eastern Brazil. The vocalizations were first recorded in 1980 by Galileu Coelho, who did not realize that the owl that produced the calls was a distinct species. Only in 2000, José Maria Cardoso da Silva came across a stored specimen in a bird collection, compared it with similar species and concluded that it was new to science. After comparing the bird's song with those of closely related species, Luiz Pedreira Gonzaga supported Cardoso da Silva's hypothesis. In November 2001, the owl - then not yet identified as a new species - was observed and videoed in the wild for the first time. It is closely related to Least and Amazonian but differs in plumage colouration, shape and vocalizations (a sound-recording is posted on the internet: It is the third new pygmy owl to be described for South America witin a decade, after Subtropical Pygmy Owl G parkeri in 1995 and Cloud-forest Pygmy Owl G nubicola in 1999.

The new species is known from only two localities in Pernambuco and should be listed as 'critically endangered'. Its entire range is estimated to cover less than 100 km2. The Atlantic Forest biodiversity hotspot in which it occurs is one of the most threatened in the world. The Pernambuco Center is biologically diverse even by Atlantic Forest standards, with 39 endemic bird species and subspecies and the largest number of threatened bird species in Brazil - 18 including Pernambuco Pygmy Owl and Alagoas Curassow Mitu mitu, a species now labeled 'extinct in the wild'. Only 1907 km2 (5%) is left of 39 567 km2 of original forest. The remaining forest is fragmented in more than 1400 parcels, most of which are less than 100 hectares and surrounded by agricultural and urban development.

The name mooreorum was chosen in honour of Gordon Moore, founder of the Intel company, and his wife Betty Moore, who have made significant contributions to conservation. In 2001, the Moore Foundation gave Conservation International 261 million USD in a series of grants over 10 years to implement a major global strategy for biodiversity conservation.
Enno B Ebels