Malagasy or Rainforest Scops Owls
The Malagasy Scops Owls (Otus rutilus) - also known as Madagascar, Rainforest or Ruddy Scops Owls - are endemic to eastern Madagascar, where they occur in primary and secondary moist forest and drier forest to thickets, humid bush country and urban parks - from sea-level up to 6,,600 feet (2000 meters).
They are mostly resident (non-migratory) except for some dispersal amongst the juveniles.
Subspecies & Ranges
- Otus rutilus rutilus (Pucheran, 1849) - Nominate Form
- Range: Mainland Madagascar
- Otus rutilus mayottensis (Benson, 1960z0 - Maybe a separate speces
- Range: Comoros Islands situated off the south-east coast of Africa, to the east of Mozambique and north-west of Madagascar.
Malagasy Scops Owl are relatively small owls that measure about 8.7 - 9.5 inches (22 - 24 cm) in length (including the tail), with a wingspan of 20.5 - 21.3 inches (52 - 54 cm).
They have short, rounded wings and small, erectile ear tufts. Grey, brown and rufous plumages occur in this race (color morphs). They have pale eyebrows and light spots on the shoulders. They may have striped markings on the wings and outer tail feathers. The crown and the plumage below are sometimes streaked.
The bill ranges in color from dull green to yellow grey, with a black tip.
Vision / Sight
Their yellow, forward-facing eyes are nearly as large as human eyes and are immobile within their circular bone sockets. For this reason, owls need flexible necks, as they have to turn the entire head to change views. They have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as most mammals and can move their heads 270 degrees in either direction (nearly all the way around!). Most other bird species have their eyes on the sides of their heads enabling them to see sideways and, to some extent, backwards. Owls, on the other hand, have both eyes in the front which enhances their depth perception.
Owls are unable to clearly see anything within a few inches of their eyes. On the other hand, their far vision - particularly in low light conditions - is incredibly good. The color of the eyes tells us a lot about their habits; those with dark brown or black eyes are nocturnal hunters; those with yellow eyes mostly hunt during the day, and those with orange eyes hunt at night and during the day.
To protect their eyes, Owls have 3 eyelids: one upper and one lower eyelid, and a nictitating membrane. The upper lid closes when the owl blinks, and the lower closes when the Owl sleeps. The third eyelid, the nictitating membrane, is a thin layer of tissue that closes diagonally across the eye, from the inside to the outside. The purpose of these membranes is to clean, moisten and protect the surface of the eyes.
Diet / Feeding
They feed on various insects, such as moths and spiders; as well as taking small vertebrates. Hunting is mostly done at night from a perch.
Alternate (Global) Names
Chinese: 马岛角鸮 ... Czech: výreček bělobradý ... Danish: Madagaskardværghornugle ... Dutch: Madagaskardwergooruil, Madagaskar-dwergooruil ... Estonian: madagaskari päll ... Finnish: Madagaskarinpöllönen, Madagskarinpöllönen ... French: Petit-duc malgache ... German: Inseleule, Madagaskar-Zwergohreule ... Italian: Assiolo malgascio ... Japanese: madagasukarukonohazuku ... Malagasy: Fataliha, Fitaliha, Kotoroka, Torotoroka ... Norwegian: Madagaskarugle ... Polish: syczek malgaski ... Russian: Мадагаскарская Совка ... Slovak: výrik pralesný ... Spanish: Autillo Malgache ... Swedish: Östlig madagaskardvärguv
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