Kaaoo kaaoo kah-ow!
On October 13, Rajshahi University’s zoology department’s Prof Aminuzzaman Md Saleh Reza went out on a morning walk on the campus.
This was supposed to be no different from his usual morning ritual, but upon hearing a peculiar bird-call, Prof Reza suddenly stumbled onto history-making territory.
The bird in question turned out be a Jungle Owlet, a new species of owl spotted for the first time in the country.
“When I heard its call, I knew it sounded like nothing I’ve heard before,” Prof Reza told The Daily Star yesterday.
He started tracing the source of the call, and discovered the caller sitting on a mango tree near Paris Road.
“It was a squat little owl with dense lines all over the body, lacking the false eyes on the back of the head possessed by many other species of owlets,” he said.
The bird called in bursts of loud hollow trills, comparable to barbets, as well as a mellow “kaaoo-kaaoo-kah-ow!”
He went on to photograph it and posted images on bird identification groups and listed for identification on bird watch databases.
Once bird researchers, formally known as ornithologists, saw the photos, they couldn’t believe it. They asked the professor to provide more photographs and recordings of the bird’s call.
Soon after, Prof Reza set out in search of the bird again. After finding it, he managed to record its call and by October 27, finished collecting all the required photographs.
Finally, the species was confirmed.
Scientific name Glaucidium radiatum, the Jungle Owlet is a forest species, found in densely wooded areas, he told The Daily Star.
Reports of hearing its calls have circulated in the country since 1951, but there had been no documented sighting, until now.
The owlets are most active at dawn and dusk on the mango and Gogon Sirish trees on RU’s Paris road, Prof Saleh Reza said. He believes they have been living in the area all along.
The sighting was confirmed by noted national and international
ornithologists, including Prof Monirul H Khan of Jahangirnagar University, and Paul Thompson and Sayam U Chowdhury of Birds Bangladesh.
They said its discovery shows Bangladesh’s richness of biodiversity and the necessity to protect the country’s nature and environment.
Talking to The Daily Star, Prof Reza said the country has some 18 species of owls, among a total of 250 species across the globe.
On RU campus alone, six varieties of owls have built their habitat, which now goes up to seven with the welcome addition of the new species.