Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Owls in Iraq

A few days ago I wrote an entry that was promptly launched into Blogger oblivion. This time I'll back it up.

Laura Erikson at Birderblog.com has been getting some more photos of Iraqi birds from people stationed there. She has 15 species in her gallery and all are worth looking at. She has a picture of a Scops Owl (possibly a Pallid Scops) taken in northern Iraq by Jim Lewis. I'm very jealous. I saw both Barn Owls and Little Owls at LSA Anaconda. Both seemed to be residents there, but no Scops Owls. Of all the birders in Iraq I've heard about in the last year Jim is the only one who has seen a Scops owl. Avibase lists 10 species of owls from Iraq of which 3 are familiar to North American birders (Barn, Long-eared and Short-eared). Since some of them are woodland species I suspect a few are only found in the mountain forests along the Turkish border. Here's the list with links to pictures and info.

Barn Owl (Picture, Info)
Pallid Scops-Owl (Picture, Info)
European Scops-Owl (Picture, Info)
Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Picture, Info)
Pharaoh Eagle-Owl (Picture, Info)
Brown Fish-Owl (Picture, Info)
Tawny Owl (Picture, Info)
Little Owl (Picture, Info)
Long-eared Owl (Picture, Info)
Short-eared Owl (Picture, Info)

For those stationed currently in Iraq here's a few links for nest box designs that could be erected either on your FOB or in a village to encourage nesting. I'm not sure about all species of owls, but some local farmers around LSA Anaconda considered Little owls or Booma bad luck. Apparently its a widely held superstition in the Arab world that to see an owl is bad luck to hear one is worse. Maybe they can be convinced that killing rodents around the village or farm is a good thing.

Boxes for Little Owls
Boxes for Barn Owls

These plans may have to be adapted for the high temperature in Iraq. Both species nested and roosted inside the large concrete bunkers at Anaconda, probably because they were cool during the summer.

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