Swinhoe’s Owlet

When I visited Wenyu He in Beijing a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a pair of breeding Little Owls (Athene noctua).  On a return visit I captured the image below of a young bird.  Shi Jin, a regular on Birdforum, posted an image of one of these birds on his excellent China 2010 thread.  Richard Klim, always up to date on the latest taxonomic issues, pointed out that north-east China’s subspecies – Athene [noctua] plumipes – has been suggested as a separate species with Swinhoe’s Owlet being the suggested new name (Wink 2011).  König & Weick’s “Owls of the World” (2008) mooted it as a potential split back in 2008, saying “Toes more densely covered with plumes rather than bristles. …Perhaps specifically distinct.”

That’s good enough for me…!

Swinhoe’s Owlet, a cool name for north-east China’s Little Owl.

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About Terry Townshend

I am a British birder living and birding in Beijing from August 2010 until 2015. Through this blog I hope I can convey a sense of what it is like to live in this thriving, confident and contrasting city and the birdlife that can be found in its environs. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! Terry Townshend, Beijing September 2010
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5 Responses to Swinhoe’s Owlet

  1. Libby says:

    A beautiful photo T – I wish I had seen it.

  2. John Holmes says:

    I’m al in favour of China bird “splits” , especially if they honour Robert Swinhoe. Great pic.

  3. Gretchen says:

    Just got to see this – yes, a really nice picture. I suppose it’s not as gentle as it looks soft and innocent! Those feathered toes still spell death to some… Do you have any idea how old this one is?

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