There were two aspects of species discovery that I presented to my Conservation Biology class on Thursday: distribution and detection. New species that are likely to be discovered are those with narrow distributions and low detection. Most new species, particularly birds, are coming out of the tropics so this is an exciting discovery.
The bird is described in Zootaxa, whose subscription is... get this... $12,000 PER YEAR. What? So I'm not even going to link to it but describe some details. This is a new owl from the Arabian Peninsula - not exactly tropical (although hot!). The is a species split: one species that will become two. One population, the one described from the type specimen, will remain but another population will be now be named. The original species is Strix butleri (Hume's Owl) and new the species will be the Strix hadorami (Desert Tawny Owl). The specific epithet being in honor of an Israeli ornithologist.
We have one Strix in the Pennsylvania area, S. varia. A cool bird on the east coast that prefers wetlands but hybridizing with an endangered species on the west coast - more on that in a future post.
S. hadorami is found in deserts and nests on cliffs. Sounds like a cool bird to see. The new species designation is based on morphology and and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) so this sounds legit (as my daughter likes to say).