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The breeding biology of the Critically Endangered Seychelles Scops-owl Otus insularis: consequences for conservation and management

  • DAVE CURRIE (a1), RODNEY FANCHETTE (a2), JAMES MILLETT (a2), CAMILLE HOAREAU (a2) and NIRMAL J. SHAH (a2)...

Abstract

The endemic Seychelles Scops-owl Otus insularis is a Critically Endangered restricted-range species currently recorded only from the montane forest of Mahé, the largest (152 km2) and highest (903 m) island in the granitic Seychelles. Limited research has been conducted on the species and, in particular, details of its breeding biology are poorly known. Behavioural observations were made on 12 pairs by the systematic monthly use of playback of conspecific calls, in conjunction with frequent non-playback territory visits from April 1999 to May 2001. A total of eight nests, including the first nest record, were found on three territories. All were in tree cavities (7–25 m high) and contained either a single egg or chick. This was consistent with additional observations of solitary fledglings (n = 11, from eight territories). Incubation lasted 3–4 weeks and the fledging period was 4–6 weeks (data from two nests). The timing of copulations, in conjunction with the detection of nests and fledglings, suggests that the scops-owl can breed throughout the year with peaks in nesting occurring around May and October. Sex roles during breeding were similar to those of other Strigidae owls: incubation was performed by the female; males courtship-fed the female prior to and during incubation, and the female and chick for the first 2 weeks post-hatching; and both parents fed older chicks and fledglings. Fledglings remained on territory for at least 3 months. Breeding success of study pairs was low: two of eight nests were successful and 11 fledglings (recorded from eight of 12 study territories) were observed in a 26-month period, equivalent to c. 0.5 fledglings per territory per year. Evidence suggests that alien predators may have been a factor limiting breeding success. We discuss the conservation implications of our findings.

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The breeding biology of the Critically Endangered Seychelles Scops-owl Otus insularis: consequences for conservation and management

  • DAVE CURRIE (a1), RODNEY FANCHETTE (a2), JAMES MILLETT (a2), CAMILLE HOAREAU (a2) and NIRMAL J. SHAH (a2)...

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