8 Oct 2019

Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl - Abha

Whilst in Abha, Phil Roberts and I managed to see and photograph a couple of Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl. One was perched some overhead lines and allowed very close views. We got out of the car and moved closer getting to about ten metres of the bird with the owl appearing comfortable with our presence, and stayed on the wires the entire time until we left it in peach in the same location. The subspecies in Arabia is an endemic sub-species to southwestern Arabia and although not rare is difficult to locate. Birds are resident near the Red Sea coast north to Jeddah and can be seen in the Tihamah and Asir areas including Najran and Hejaz north to Taif. Other birds have been seen in a wooded wadi eight kilometres east of Wadi Juwwah in April and near Tanoumah at various times of year. The taxonomic status of form milesi,significantly isolated in southwest Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, is uncertain. It is a rather small eagle-owl with long, erect ear-tufts and with race milesi smaller and more tawny coloured. They use a variety of habitats, from rocky outcrops in desert to woodland with sparse ground cover: particularly favours areas with mosaic of low hills, grassland and scrub; prefers semi-open woodland, and rocky hills with scattered trees and bushes; also found in thorn savanna; avoids dense forest. From sea level up to c. 2100 metres. A recent paper by Collar & Boesman 2019 - ‘The taxonomy of certain Asio and Bubo owl species in Africa and Arabia’ say calls are different from African nominate and the range isolated suggesting it is a distinct species.
Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl


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