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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Forest Owlet

forest owlet

Scientific fraud almost led to this tiny owl’s extinction. Species name: Forest owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti). Known locally as dongar dudaa. Where found: About a dozen locations in the forests of central India. The small, stocky bird species went unseen by scientists from 1884 until its rediscovery in 1997, mostly because of a scientific fraud in [...]

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Extinction Countdown

World’s Largest Owl Needs Equally Large Trees and Forests (But It’s More Complex Than That)

Blakiston's Fish owl

With a body the size of a small child and a wingspan of up to two meters, the Blakiston’s fish owl (Bubo blakistoni) is the largest owl in the world. It is also one of the rarest, shiest and least studied. But that didn’t stop a team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Cane Toads, Blue Whales, Red Wolves and Other Updates from the Brink

northern spotted owl

People often ask me, “How can you write about endangered species all the time? Isn’t it depressing?” Sure, it can be, but not as depressing as the sheer number of stories that I don’t get to write about. So let’s catch up on some of the stories that should have made headlines this month. First [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Should barred owls be shot to save endangered spotted owls?

Northern spotted owl, via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The ever-controversial northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) has been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1990, but despite the best efforts of lawmakers and conservationists the bird’s population numbers continue to dwindle. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has a radical plan to help the raptor: kill some of the barred [...]

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Climate change drives (micro)evolution in Finland

For want of snow, the tawny owl of Finland has become more brown in the past half-century, according to new research published February 22 in Nature Communications. Finnish researchers scored tawny owls (Strix aluco)—a raptor common to all of Europe—on the color of their plumage, specifically how brown (dark) or gray (pale) their feathers were. [...]

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Running Ponies

Rinjani scops owl: New owl species discovered in Indonesia

Rinjani scops owl

A new species of owl called the Rinjani scops owl has been discovered, and it’s unique to the tiny Indonesian island of Lombok. Until fairly recently, it was common practice for scientists to identify owl species based largely on their plumage and morphology. Both features are important in distinguishing all kinds of birds, but can [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Dead animals at the roadside

It’s a sad fact of modern life that thousands of animals of all different kinds get killed on roads every year following collisions with motor vehicles. Here in southern England there’s a list of creatures you see dead at the roadside all the time. In some cases, these animals have to cross roads because that’s [...]

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