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New species of owl with distinctive territorial song identified in Indonesia

Newly identified Rinjani scops owl is found on the island of Lombok, and has a curious territorial call.

Moluccan Scopes OwlEnlarge
The Moluccan Scopes Owl looks very similar to the newly discovered Rinjani scops owl of Indonesia, identified recently by researchers as a distinctive species. (Wikimedia Commons/Wikimedia commons)

A new species of owl has been identified in Indonesia, a small brown and white creature with a distinctive territorial call that managed to elude distinction from a similar-looking species for years.

The Rinjani scops owl, as the new species has been named, resides on the Indonesian island of Lombok and bears a distinct resemblance to the Moluccan scops owl: the two were assumed to be the same species for decades.

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Researchers found in 2003 that the territorial calls of the Moluccan scops owl differed from those of the as-yet-unnamed Rinjani scops owl, prompting intensified research into the difference between the two, according to a paper published in the PLOS ONE journal. 

The new owl species was known to local Indonesians as "burung pok," likely referring to its trademark call.

The bird was given the scientific name of Otus jolandae, and is now the first bird species identified as endemic to the island of Lombok.

The researchers  noted in their  paper that owls remain somewhat understudied: recognized species of owls increased dramatically from 146 species in 1975, to 250 species in 2008.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/wildlife-news/130214/new-species-owl-distinctive-territorial-song-identified-i