A newly discovered owl species lives on just one Indonesian island and whistles a one-note "song" that rhymes with the name of its island.
The Rinjani Scops owl is found on the island of Lombok, according to a paper published in the latest PLoS ONE. Its song sounds like "pok." (Although sometimes it makes a "pooook" sound too.)
Its scientific name is Otus jolandae, after the wife of a researcher.
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The new species was long confused with a more widespread Indonesian owl because they share similar plumage. Two members of a research team, however, have independently discovered that the vocalizations of the owls on Lombok are unique and different from all other Indonesian owls.
"It was quite a coincidence that two of us identified this new bird species on different parts of the same island, within a few days of being on the island," George Sangster, who led the study, was quoted as saying in a press release. "That is quite a coincidence, especially considering that no-one had noticed anything special about these owls in the previous 100 years."
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Sangster, a researcher at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, and his colleagues surveyed neighboring islands and could find no evidence for the owl. They therefore believe that it is unique to Lombok.
In terms of its unique song, this owl whistles the "pok" note. Locals on the island refer to the bird now as "burung pok," an onomatopoeic name reflecting the song note of the wide-eyed bird.
Image: Philippe Verbelen