New species of hawk-owl
Since the late 1980s, it was known that an unknown species of owl existed on Sumba, Lesser Sundas, Indonesia. Most observers that reported observations considered it to be a scops owl Otus; others even argued that the observations referred to a misidentified endemic Sumba Boobook Ninox rudolfi (a hawk-owl species). On 20 December 2001, Jerry Olsen and Susan Trost observed, photographed, tape-recorded and videoed three pairs of the owl along a road west of Waingapu, and on 30 December 2001 a specimen was shot by a local hunter c 4 km from the same location and shown to JO. Subsequent analysis of the cytochrome-b gene revealed unequivocally that the specimen was a Ninox species. Recently, it was described as Little Sumba Hawk-owl Ninox sumbaensis (Olsen, J, Wink, M, Sauer-Gürth, H & Trost, S 2002. A new Ninox owl from Sumba, Indonesia. Emu 102: 223-231). There was no overlap in body length and body mass between this specimen and other Ninox owls of the region and the call was a monosyllabic hoot repeated every three seconds, unlike the repeated cluck-cluck-cluck call of Sumba Boobook or the disyllabic calls made by most hawk-owls. The conservation status of this new species remains uncertain but the authors argue that it might be threatened.
André J van Loon