Owls belong to the order of Strigiform. This order consists of almost 200 species of owls’ distributed all around the world. Owls are nocturnal birds, therefore they are most active during the night and sleep during day time. They are broad-headed, with feathers adapted for silent flights and have sharp talons to capture their prey. These owls prey on small mammals, insects, and birds. One of the important and mysterious species of owl is Stygian owl. Stygians are distributed all over the earth except for the polar region.
This owl is a ghost owl. As it is not seen in the night by researchers and biologist so they call it Ghost owl. Because of this behavior, the stygian owl is the least studied owl. Stygian means “Gloomy and Dark”. It originates from a greet work “River Styx” which means “Souls of Dead”.
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This blog gathers all the information related to Stygian owl under one article that you will NEED to know.
Stygian Owl – Appearance and Characteristics
Stygian owls have much resemblance with long-eared owls which are found in America and Eurasia. These owls are well studied and have many minds blowing qualities. Unlike long-eared owls, Stygian owls are quite different from their cousins.
Identification of Stygian owl:
The Stygian Owl is a medium-sized bird that belongs to the family Strigidae and genus Asio. The scientific name of this owl is Asio stygius. The owl is overall dusky brown with white speckles all over the body.
The facial disc is somehow darker than the body. The color of its eyes ranges from yellow to dark orange. It has white eyebrows, greyish brown cere, and dark black beak. It also has long ear tufts that protect the ears.
The upper layers of the plumage are dark brown like soot, whereas the forehead and crown are mottled. The area between nape and rump call mantle is almost plain and pale.
The outer edges of wings have spots. The underparts of the owl body are pale and dusky with dark shaft-streaks and cross-bars.
Size of Stygian Owl:
As these owls are medium-sized their length ranges from 36 to 46 cm and weigh up to 675 grams. Their wingspan ranges from 291 to 380mm. it is also observed that females are heavier and larger than males.
Range and Habitat of Stygian Owl:
This unique owl is present in South America, the Caribbean, and in some areas of Central America. It is distributed in the parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Isles of pines, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.
This also is present at an elevation of 3100 meters. It usually lives in mountains, dense forests, and vegetation. It prefers deciduous and evergreen forests. The stygian owl is also present in woodlands.
But as they are Nocturnal therefore, they are mostly active at night and rest during the day time.
Food and Hunting:
Stygian owls are birds of prey and hunt a variety of animals. These animals include birds (include passerines and grassquits), reptiles, rodents, insects, and bats. They usually perch to catch their prey at night.
These birds of prey are detected by their involuntary sounds when they touch the foliage.
Nesting & Breeding:
It is observed that stygian owls mostly use the nest of other birds build by sticks. But they can also nest own their own in dense trees as well as on the ground.
During the courtship time, males use to flap their wings in times of flight. Females lay only 2 eggs and incubate them all alone. After the eggs are hatch both males and females take part in feeding them. The young ones unlike the parents have blue pupils.
Voice and calls:
Male Stygians have a deep “Whuof” sound with a plunging rhythm. To this sound of male stygian, the female sometimes replies with a shrill voice “Miah”.
Both the sexes sing “wak-wak-wak” when they are excited. Young ones vocalize “Cheet” when they are hungry.
These owls are nocturnal and are active during the night and sleep during the day. During alarming situations their ears get erectile and after that, the ear tufts are almost invisible.
They usually fly by beating motions of their wings and rarely glide over long distances.
Do Stygian Migrate:
Unlike their cousins’ long-eared owls, stygian owls are permanent residents. They do not migrate during seasonal variations and remain there in their house for years or a lifetime.
As discussed above stygian owls are considered as “ghost owls” in biological terms. Their dark color, long ear tufts, and red eyes make them not less than a devil. In Brazil, it is known as “Coruja-Diabo” which means “devil owls”.
These devils owls have a great threat from humans. It was observed that most of the time the death of stygian owl is due to human intervention and not a natural cause.
But these threats are not very large to consider such creature endanger. So they are among the list of least concerned animals in the IUCN list.
Stygian owl a close relative of long-eared owl is quite different from its cousin. Unlike long-eared owl, it exhibits many unique and exceptional characteristics. One prominent trait is their ghost/Devil like appearance that can make someone afraid at once very easily.
But much research has to be conducted to fully understand the behavior of this species. The research must be conducted in such a way that it does not harm these birds and their habitats.