BIRD OF THE WEEK: 3/20/2015
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Xenoglaux loweryi
POPULATION: 250-999 individuals
IUCN STATUS: Endangered
HABITAT: High-elevation cloud forest in Peru
The tiny Long-whiskered Owlet, measuring only about five inches in length, is so distinctive that scientists placed it in its own genus, Xenoglaux, meaning "strange owl." First discovered in 1976, it remained elusive until several were spotted in 2007 at the Abra Patricia Reserve, where ABC and partner Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) now protect over 25,000 acres of habitat.
Ongoing habitat destruction for agriculture and timber is the most immediate threat to the Long-whiskered Owlet and other rare birds, including the Ochre-fronted Antpitta and Royal Sunangel.
Planting Trees at Abra Patricia
Supported by ABC, reforestation is ongoing at Abra Patricia and surrounding areas, where hundreds of thousands of native trees and shrubs have been planted along with 154,000 coffee bushes on private lands.
These plants are all grown at community nurseries by and for local people. ABC and ECOAN have also built tree nurseries with the capacity to produce thousands of saplings each year.
Searching for the Owlet
Although visiting birders regularly observe the Long-whiskered Owlet at Owlet Lodge and two other locations nearby, much remains to be discovered about the species' ecology and behavior. ECOAN is experimenting with nest boxes near Owlet Lodge but has so far been unable to attract an owlet to use one
Abra Patricia, which features a trail system and canopy tower, is the highlight of the Northeast Andes birding route. This route includes the Marvelous Spatuletail at Huembo Reserve, where that rare hummingbird is regularly seen at feeders.