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Scientific Name:

Xenoglaux loweryi

Population Status:

Endangered

Body Length:

5.1–5.5 in (13–14 cm)

Wingspan:

3.9-4.1 in (100-105 mm)

Weight:

1.68 -1.8 oz (46-51g)

What makes a raptor a raptor?

Did you know?

  • The Long-whiskered Owlet is one of the smallest owls in the world.
  • Three individual Long-whiskered Owlets were caught in mist-nests at night in their habitat. Mist-netting is a common way for researchers to trap passerines and other small birds, often to band them and/or to take measurements and weights before releasing them back into the wild.
  • The Long-whiskered Owlet's scientific name means "strange" or "foreign" owl.

Though The Peregrine Fund is not working directly with Long-whiskered Owlets, our conservation efforts through habitat protection, education, and community outreach extend to all raptor species, including this tiny owl. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation.

Just as the Pernambuco Pygmy Owl's only known range is in the northeastern state of Brazil known as Pernambuco, the Long-whiskered Owlet's range is limited to a very small corner of northern Peru, within the Amazon rainforest.

In fact, this species has only been documented in elfin (forests with miniature trees) and cloud forests with thick undergrowth, including bamboo thickets, and a plethora of epiphytes, mosses and lichens growing about, from around 1,890–2,200 metres (6,200–7,220 ft) above sea level.

When you heard the name - Long-whiskered Owlet - could you picture exactly what it looked like? Or at least, the "whiskered" part? Did you image an owl with a beard - a la Santa Claus? Or perhaps an upturned mustache like Mustache Monkey? The Long-whiskered Owlet's "whiskers" don't look like beards or mustaches. In fact, this owl's "whiskers" are actually extra long facial feathers which extend out to the sides - looking more like extraordinarily long eyelashes than human facial hair. These long feathers also are found around its beak. This feature, along with its orange eyes, white "eyebrows", short tail, bare legs, mottled pale breast and brown back gives this owl a very striking appearance indeed!

Like many owl species, the Long-whiskered Owlet appears to active at dusk.

The vocalizations of this species aren't very well known, but scientists have described two different calls - one a soft whistle, which may be the call individuals make to locate each other and another, believed to be made by the male, is a series of whistles followed by a few notes higher in pitch. Scientists have documented that these owls respond to taped versions of their own vocalizations -called playbacks. This means the owl will fly in relatively close to people, if someone is playing a recording of the species' calls.

According to the authors of Owls of the World, this tiny owls moves around by "hopping and fluttering among dense vegetation and undergrowth."

This species was first discovered by the scientific world in 1976 during an expedition by Louisiana State University. Expedition members were just about to give up and move to a different location, when one of their team members showed up with a tiny owl in a cloth bag, which he had trapped in a mist net. This tiny owl turned out to be the - until then undescribed, Long-whiskered Owlet!

The fact that so little is known about the Long-whiskered Owlet, coupled with its very limited range, puts this species at risk. Sadly, this small owl faces even more threats to its survival including deforestation, agriculture and mining, and human encroachment into its habitat. Scientists estimate that less than 1,000 mature individuals remain and this number may be as low as only 250! For this reason, it is classified as Endangered.

Though it might seem surprising, there are still so very many species that we know so little about. This is true for the Long-Whiskered Owlet, as well. Now that you know how small this owl is, could you make a guess as to what its favorite prey might be? If you guessed bugs, you are probably right, but no one knows for sure. Scientsts believe that this owlet feeds mainly on insects. But, no real information is available yet about this owl's diet.

Sadly, the Long-whiskered Owlet's breeding biology, behavior and ecology are just as unknown as their diet and hunting. Do they nest in tree cavities? Do pairs mate for life? How many eggs do they lay? Do both the female and male help incubate the eggs? How long do the young stay in the nest before fledging? There are so many questions and no answers. It might be a dream come true for a budding biologist to spend months - or even years - in northern Peru studying this little-known owl.

Would you like to come face to face with some amazing owls? If you answer is yes, come for a visit to the World Center for Birds of Prey. We have a spectacular Milky Eagle-owl, Eurasian Eagle-owl and a Western Screech Owl as part of our crew of avian ambassadors. During our flight show in October, you can even see Wally (the Eurasian Eagle-owl) show off his amazing powers of silent flight. The Center also offers other fun ways to learn about birds of prey. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room with activities from coloring sheets to quizzes to costumes await the curious visitor. There is also a touch table with owl feathers and other natural objects available for exploration.


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