Magnus Robb – Undiscovered Owls

The Interview

‘Undiscovered Owls’ is the new title from the Sound Approach. I figured the best way to dive in and discover its content was to interview the author, Magnus Robb. It was an information- packed discussion, starlit with impersonations of the Owls themselves. Make sure you listen!

“Can you imagine how my heart was beating..’

Omani Owl, Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountains, Oman 26th May 2013. Arnoud B. van den Berg. One of the first ever photographs of the newly (re) discovered species.

Omani Owl, Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountains, Oman 26th May 2013. Arnoud B. van den Berg.
One of the first ever photographs of the newly (re) discovered species.

 

With the personal account of discovering the Omani Owl, impressions of Ural Owl, Omani Owl, Tawny Owl, Cucumiau, Barn Owls and Cyprus Scops Owls, Magnus talks about so many discoveries as he explores ‘Owls’.  As well as some far-flung taxa, he homes right in on familiar and common species like Tawny and Barn Owls, where, especially in the case of the latter there are, remarkably, key things we still don’t know. So someone needs to get out and keep discovering! There’s information but also an invitation.

“Owls are a joy to record, it’s an indulgent pleasure”

Here’s the interview:

 

Snippest from the Interview

Barn Owls.

Dark-breasted Barn Owl, March 2005, Texel, Netherlands. Photo by René Pop

Dark-breasted Barn Owl, March 2005, Texel, Netherlands. Photo by René Pop

“Let me just say something which I find really striking… as you say one of the commonest species and yet…

Magnus explains how, despite much literature he could not get to the bottom of the Barn Owl sounds he was hearing. He had to establish a vocabulary to explain it. Having recorded a few  Barn Owl calls at Flamborough- it got me animated and annoyed! Another fascinating subject to explore, things still to discover. Where will I find the time?! 🙂

Tawny Owls

“I love Tawny Owls- they’re so wild”

Tawny Owl, Ruissalo Turku Finland by Dick Forsman

Tawny Owl, Ruissalo Turku Finland. Dick Forsman

 

“I always start-up with something that I have heard”

Magnus Robb in action sound recording.

Magnus Robb in action sound recording.

 

Cucumiau and Little Owls  

OK what’s with using this weird name for one of the ‘Little Owl’ group? Listen to the interview. It’s brilliant!. The ecology of the this particular Little Owl – Cucumiau has already been worked out and described by local people in multiple countries. I don’t think you’ll be able to argue against the name once you hear the explanation. Seriously!

Ooo and there is a little bit of gossip in the process of finding sites with owls…

“He discovered it  (the site) because he had been there with a series of girlfriends”

 

Cucumiau, Larnaca, Cyprus 30the June 2013. René Pop

Cucumiau, Larnaca, Cyprus 30th June 2013. René Pop

 

Cyprus Scops Owl

Cyprus. A popular tourist destination. Must have been lots of birder chillin’ of an evening. How many noticed the odd calls of the local Scops Owls and the peculiar duetting of pairs. It sounds unlike Scops Owls elsewhere. There seems to be isolating mechanisms. They really function as separate species. All in the interview…

Cyprus Scops Owl, Panagia Cyprus 29th June 2013. René Pop.

Cyprus Scops Owl, Panagia Cyprus 29th June 2013. René Pop.

 

Omani Owl

“It was bugging me,  it was bugging all of us and I had to get to the bottom of it…”

Hear Magnus describe the moment when he knew he had found something.. a completely unknown and undiscovered Owl.  It sounded like a kind of strix owl because of the rhythm, but with no sightings and no more sounds. What the heck was it? What did it look like? What were they supposed to do?

Arnoud returned and got some recordings and amazing images. Magnus again describes the moment the email arrives in his in-tray.

“Can you imagine how my heart was beating when … the email ‘cos it sounded more like a Ural Owl…”

Then there’s the  Owl on the balcony in Iran…

 

 

 

**** Naming the New Owls ****

So what are they and what do we call them?

Omani Owl Strix butleri

The new species (re) discovered  by Magnus Robb as described in the interview.

Full and new information and paper HERE. Previous post (press release) on Birding Frontiers HERE.

Omani Owl Strix butleri, Al Hajar mountains, Oman, 2 March 2015. Magnus Robb, Alyn Walsh & The Sound Approach

Omani Owl Strix butleri, Al Hajar mountains, Oman, 2 March 2015. Magnus Robb, Alyn Walsh & The Sound Approach

Omani Owl, Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountains, Oman 26th May 2013. Arnoud B. van den Berg. One of the first ever photographs of the newly (re) discovered species.

Omani Owl, Al Jabal Al Akhdar mountains, Oman 26th May 2013. Arnoud B. van den Berg.
One of the first ever photographs of the newly (re) discovered species.

Desert Owl Strix hadorami  

(same thing we called Hume’s Owl that folks go and see, usually on a trip to Israel.)

There is a suggestion for the name being “Desert Tawny Owl” but you would probably then have to change our temperate Tawny Owl to something like “Forest Tawny Owl”. So please lets keep it simple:

“…nobody wants to change Tawny Owl to Forest Tawny Owl”

Desert Owl, Dhofar, Oman February 2014. Killian Mullarney.

Desert Owl, Dhofar, Oman February 2014. Killian Mullarney.

Desert Owl, Judean Desert, February 2012. Yoav Perlman

Desert Owl, Judean Desert, February 2012. Yoav Perlman

Did you miss it?

Here’s the interview:

You can get more information about the book, what’s in it and buying it from the The Sound Approach.

undiscovered-owls

One thought on “Magnus Robb – Undiscovered Owls

  1. linosabirding

    Just a short little comments… despite the never ending, most often unfruitfull comments on some popular birds forums, the re-descovering after a century of Strix butleri was INDEED and INFACT as important and relevant as discovering a new species within the Western Palearctic range… as, in fact, without Magnus studies, without his findings together with Arnoud VDBerg and the Sound Approach team, we would never ever have realised that the Strix hadorami was a yet indescriobed taxon, and the Spanish-English team would never have reached such conclusion !! So, indeed, even if Strix omanensis is an invalid name, yet this lead to a multiple target achivement!! 1) descovering a new species; 2) re-descovering a lost taxon and population ;

    so thanks Magnus et al 🙂

    Reply

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