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Palau Owl - Pyrroglaux podarginus

Calls - Pyrroglaux podarginus
Typical calls Urukthapel, Palau. July 1978. [ML 5376 H. Douglas Pratt] © Macaulay Library

Introduction: The Palau Owl is a relatively small owl with no visible ear-tufts. Darker and lighter rufous morphs are known to exist. It was formerly placed in the genus Otus, and called the Palau Scops Owl.

[For help with terms used in the description, see parts of an owl. For general characteristics common to most owl species, see owl physiology.]

Description: Male: The facial disc is pale rufous-buff with narrow, darker, rufous-brown concentric rings. The forehead and eyebrows are whitish, tinged with rufous-buff, and narrowly barred blackish-brown. The feathers at the base of the upper bill have long, blackish shafts. The bill itself is dirty whitish. Eyes are brown or orange-yellow.
The crown and upperparts are rufous-brown. Some of the neck feathers are narrowly barred with brown and white. Wings are sandy-rufous with pale rufous-buff bars. The tail is rufous with indistinct dark brown barring. The throat is whitish-rufous, while the breast is pale rufous, barred with white and black. The belly is paler rufous. Tarsi and toes are unfeathered and coloured dirty whitish.
Female: Resembles the male described above, but is darker brown above with fine blackish vermiculations. Underparts may be pale or dark rufous with variable white and brown bars and spots.

Size: Length about 22cm. Wing length 155-163mm. Tail length 78-87mm. No weight data available. Females are on average larger than males.

Habits: The Palau Scops Owl is a nocturnal bird, roosting in mangrove thickets during the day. This owl moves around considerably during the night in search of food, particularly in villages. Calls are made from a perch where it will remain for only a few minutes before moving on.

Voice: The song of the male is a series of clear single notes at intervals of almost 1 second - kwuk kwuk... Notes may vary in length and quality, sometimes softer, sometimes harder. When excited, the intervals become shorter and the call eventually disyllabic, then usually returning to single notes which fade away - kwuk-kwuk... kwuk-kwuk... kwugook kwugook... kwuk kwuk. The song of the female is similar but higher in pitch.

Hunting & Food: The Palau Scops Owl feeds on insects and other arthropods, as well as earthworms.

Breeding: Little known. Pairs remain together throughout the year, but breeding season is February-March. Both male and female will duet during courtship. Nests are in hollow trees or tree holes. Usually 1 egg is laid, average size is 34.3 x 31.7mm.

Habitat: Rainforest and villages in the lowlands. Apparently common around villages on Koror island at night.

Distribution: Palau Islands - reported from the islands of Babelthuap (Babeldoab), Koror, Urukthapel (Ngeruktabel), Ulong, Peleliu and Angaur.

Distribution of Palau Owl - Pyrroglaux podarginus
Distribution of the Palau Owl Pyrroglaux podarginus

Status: Listed as 'Least Concern' by BirdLife International.

Original Description: Hartlaub, Gustav, and Finsch, Friedrich Hermann Otto. 1872. Proceedings of the Scientific meetings of the Zoological Society of London for the year 1872 (PZS): Pt. 1, p 90.


BirdLife International. 2012. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN 2012
Boyer and Hume. 1991. "Owls of the World". BookSales Inc
del Hoyo, Elliott & Sargatal. 1999. "Handbook of the Birds of the World: Barn Owls to Hummingbirds". Buteo Books
Duncan, James R. 2003. "Owls of the World: Their Lives, Behavior and Survival". Firefly Books
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press
Pratt, H. Douglas & Etpison, Mandy. 2008. "Birds and Bats of Palau". Mutual Pub Co

Page Information:

Page compiled by . Page last updated 2013-10-16 Owl Species ID: 050.010.000

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