Bornean Rajah Scops Owl Reappears After 125 Years

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Rare Owl With Bright Orange Eyes Seen for the First Time in More Than 125 Years

by Gia Yetikyel/Smithsonianmag.com

An easy way to find and identify a bird species is to listen for their unique calls. But Otus brookii brookii, a Bornean subspecies of the Rajah scops owl, hasn’t been observed by scientists since 1892, and its song is unknown, making it that much harder to find.

Now, for the first time in more than 125 years, researchers have documented the Rajah scops owl in a study published last month in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

In May 2016, Andy Boyce, an ecologist with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, carefully observed and photographed the owl in Sabah, Malaysia. Boyce was working on his Ph.D. at the time with the University of Montana, researching how different bird species behave across various elevations. In collaboration with local residents, Sabah Park officials and several individuals from indigenous communities, like the Dusun, the rediscovery took place during a 10-year study of avian evolution in the forests of Mount Kinabalu.

Boyce was safely capturing and measuring songbirds when he received a text message from Keegan Tranquillo, who is now a field biologist at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. Tranquillo first spotted the bird, and quickly alerted Boyce about an odd-looking owl with orange eyes.

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Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

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