Bird Families

Ussuri Owl / Otus sunia (Hodgson, 1836)

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General characteristics and field signs

One of the small scoops of our fauna, the size of a thrush, outwardly resembling an ordinary scops owl. Total length 179–203 mm, wingspan 497–525 mm. Coloring at a distance is brownish-gray, sometimes reddish with numerous dark and light streaks, less often bright red individuals are found. The facial disc is incomplete, well developed, long "ears" are visible, formed by feathers sticking up, in a calm state the bird presses them to the head. An exceptionally nocturnal bird, its presence in the forest is established by the characteristic two-syllable melodic whistle “ke-vyuyu, ke-vuyu”. During the day, it hides in dense thickets of bushes intertwined with wild grapes and lianas, climbing herbaceous plants, in the thick of a young aspen forest or in the shade of a trunk on large trees. On hot summer days, he often sits on the ground, digging out the forest floor. Can be met during the day only by chance.

The Ussuri scoop has a maneuverable noiseless flight; at dusk, while hunting for insects, it partly resembles a large butterfly.

The voice signals of the Ussuri moth are quite diverse. The mating cry-song is emitted, apparently, only by males, it sounds at a distance like a monotonous repetition of "yot-that-that, yt-that-that" with a frequency of 30 times per minute. On a quiet night, this song is heard from 300–400 m away. The male can change the tonality of the song when other males sing alongside him, entering into a kind of roll call (Pukinsky, 1977). The marriage song also performs the functions of the usual species calling signal. During the current period, the female emits a peculiar squealing. Singing scoops usually sit high in the crown of trees; in May, at the height of the current, they scream not only at night, but also during the day. Downy chicks in the hollow emit a faint squeak. Grown up chicks give a far audible whistling "hiss", especially after leaving the nest. When frightened and defensively, their screams sound like a short intermittent hiss, in addition, they click their beaks. At the end of August, in the midst of molting, the hissing in young moths gradually turns into a monotonous prolonged whistle, from which the initial and final nagging sounds subsequently remain. In summer young scoops, a rather melodic quiet two-syllable whistle "ooo-ooo" is formed. With a slight fright, they emit a signal "yrrrrrrr" resembling the purr of a cat, and with a strong fright - a loud and sharp cry "aahuu" (GA Noskoe, pers. Comm.). In spring and summer, Ussuriisk owls are unusually noisy, stop crying shortly before departure. During the flight, they are very silent.

It differs from a close species - the common scops owl by the unfeathered lower part of the tarsus, from the collar scoop - by its small size and the absence of a light spot on the neck.

Description

Coloring. Male and female in breeding plumage.There are no age sex and seasonal differences in color. Like other owls, there are two color morphs: gray and red, very rarely rusty-golden. The head, back, belly and sides of the body are monotonous gray (or red to bright golden in some individuals) with a frequent thin small transverse pattern, with dark brown longitudinal streaky streaks, more frequent on the belly. The ventral side is noticeably lighter. The facial disc is light gray with thin transverse stripes, separated on the sides by a narrow dark brown stripe of small dark feathers. In a hiding, anxious bird, “ears” 15–25 mm long are clearly visible. Dark streaks on the back are not sharply expressed, blurred, therefore the Ussuri scoop looks more monochromatic and less motley than the common scops owl. Among the Ussuri moths inhabiting Primorye, individuals of the gray morph predominate.

Downy outfit. The general color is pure white with luster, the down is thick and long. The length of the down on the head is 6–7, on the humeral and ulnar pterilia 11–12, on the sides of the body 12–13 mm (Nechaev, 1971). The forearm is covered with down only up to the toes. The beak is gray, the wax is pinkish-gray, the folds in the corners of the mouth are light gray. The mouth and tongue are light pink. The nose is pale pink, the nails are light gray. The iris of the eyes is brownish yellow. It differs from the collar scoop chick in longer feathers.

Mesoptile - grayish-brown outfit, finely spotted on the head and back, on the lower side of the body, striated ("hawkish" type of coloration). Remnants of embryonic fluff remain on the tops of the feathers. "Ears" are very small and barely protrude above the head, Teleoptil (juvenile outfit) - the general color is gray (or red), very similar to the outfit of an adult bird. The trunk lines on the dorsal side are poorly developed; a rare transverse dark pattern is preserved on the chest and belly. The first winter outfit does not differ from that of an adult bird. From the teleoptile, only flight feathers, tail feathers and large wing coverts remain.

Molting

The sequence of changing outfits in the Ussuri scoop is similar to other species of scoops: downy - mesoptile - teleoptile (juvenile) - first winter (final) - first breeding (final).

The downy outfit, formed by dense dense white down, becomes off-white after 4–7 days, from under it down feathers of the mesoptile appear all over the body, the length of the primary flight feathers reaches 6–12 mm. At the age of 14–20 days, the chicks acquire a characteristic cross-striped color of the mesoptile, completely covered with grayish downy feathers. In August, at the age of 25–27 days, down feathers are replaced by contour feathers, the flight and tail feathers grow almost completely, the facial disc and ear feathers are completely formed. The first annual molt of young moths occurs in August and the first half of September. Already on September 9, in young birds, all cover feathers were in molt, stumps were sticking out on all parts of the body (Nechaev, 1971), on September 21, migratory birds already had a fresh feather. The entire contour feather changes, from the teleoptile remain the flight feathers, tail feathers and wing coverts. Moulting of adult birds takes place in July-August. In the male caught at the end of July, the primary flight feathers intensively molted on the right wing: VI - in a hemp, VII grew by 6 mm, VIII grew by 10 mm, IX and X - by 15 mm, I-V were old, on the left wing: VII - in hemp, VIII grew by 4 mm, IX - by 11 mm, X - by 12 mm, I – VI were old (Nechaev, 1971). Horny stumps covered the entire body, the contour feather changed at once in all areas. Molting ends in mid-September; it is possible that it stops for the period of migration and resumes in winter. It should be noted that molting of the Ussuri moth, like other moths, has been poorly studied. There is no consensus on the number of age-specific outfits, their designation and the criteria for dividing outfits.

Subspecific taxonomy

Currently, 16 (up to 18) subspecies are distinguished, differing in the degree of variation in the color of the main background, plumage pattern, the degree of feathering of the legs, overall size, distribution and ecology. The territory of Russia is inhabited by one subspecies (Dementyev, 19516, Stepanyan, 1975).

Otus sunia stictonotus

Scops stictonotus Sharpe, 1875, Catalog of the Birds in the British Museum, 2, p. 54, tb. 3, pi. 2, China

O. sunia japonica differs from the closely related Japanese subspecies in a coarser dark pattern on the dorsal side of the body, composed of wider streaks.

Spread

Nesting area. East Asia from Primorye, Japan and Korea to India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malay, Philippine, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Mantanani Islands, Borodino, Ryukyu, Sakhalin, South Kuril Islands. In Russia: Southern Primorye and Amur region to the north up to 50–51 ° N. sh., to p. Hungari, westward to the Upper Amur (51.5 ° N). On the eastern slopes of the Sikhote-Alin goes north to the river. Sitsa (45 ° N). Common nesting bird in the Kedrovaya Pad nature reserves, Sudzukhinsky (in the basin of the Hungari River, near Lake Khanka in the valley of the Sudzukhe River, in the lower reaches of the Iman River and the lower reaches of the Ussuri River) (Spangenberg, 1940, 1965, Litvinenko, Shibaev , 1971, Nazarenko, 1971, Panov, 1973). On the Amuro-Zeya plateau it reaches Klimauts (51.5 ° N). Further to the west in June – July 1983, three pairs of scoops (clearly nesting) were found in a floodplain forest of alder and willow with an admixture of birch in the upper reaches of the river p. Upper Borzya of the Argun basin (environs of the village of Dano, Kalgan district, Chita region). In the harvested female, the follicle diameter reached 13 mm (Sokolov, 1986) (Fig. 75, 76). Breeds on Sakhalin (Gizenko, 1955), presumably on Kunashir Island. The stray bird was caught in the Kolyma basin on the river. Bulun, a tributary of the Detrin, 08/31/1963 (col. ZIN RAS).

Figure 75. Distribution area of ​​the Ussuri scoop
a - border of the nesting area, b - wintering area, c - nesting area. Subspecies: 1 - Otus sunia stictonotus, 2 - 0. s. japonica, 3 - O. s. malayanus, 4 - O. s. sunia, 5 - O. s. rufipennis, 6 - O. s. leggei, 7 - O. s. interpositus, 8 - O. s. elegans, 9 - O. s. botelensis, 10 - O. s. calayensis, 11 - O. s. longicornis, 12 - O. s. mindorensis, 13-O. s. romblonis, 14 - O. s. cujensis, 15 - O. s. mcntananensis

Figure 76. The area of ​​the Ussuri scoop in Russia
a - border of the nesting area, b - unclear border of the nesting area, c - fly-in

Migrations

The seasonal migrations of the Ussuriisk moth have been insufficiently studied. The main direction of autumn migration is southern. Birds fly along the sea coast through the Sudzukhinsky Nature Reserve, where the remains of dead moths were found in September (Litvinenko, Shibaev, 1971). There is a hall on the islands. Peter the Great migration takes place in the second or third decades of September (Labzyuk et al., 1971), over Moneron Island - until October 7 (Nechaev, 1975). In Kedrovaya Pad, in autumn migration occurs in September, until 24.09–1.10 (Panov, 1973). On Kunashir Island and the Golovnin volcano caldera, two birds were recorded in 1962 at 17.10 (Nechaev, 1969). On migration it keeps singly, late non-decayed broods - in groups of 3-5 individuals, does not form large clusters. The flight takes place exclusively in the dark.

The beginning of spring migration is timed to the onset of stable heat and the appearance of insects. In Kedrovaya Pad, it was recorded by a cry from 9–10.05, in the Sudzukhinsky Reserve, the first cry of the Ussuriisky owl in 1962 was recorded on 26.04. There is a hall on the islands. Peter the Great, migratory birds are found throughout May and early June (Labzyuk et al., 1971). In the lower reaches of the Imach it appears in early May (Spangeiberg, 1940, 1965). Recorded on Moneron Island in the third decade of May (Nechaev, 1975). The flight is extended and covers in the south of Primorskii krai the second half of April — the rocking of May (Vorobyov, 1954, Rakhilin, 1975) and the second half of May — the first half of June in the north of the krai.

Daily activity, behavior

A purely crepuscular and nocturnal bird. During the breeding season, it can scream in the daytime. During the day he hides in shelters. The maximum foraging activity occurs during twilight and pre-dawn hours, from 21:00 to 22:00 and from 03:30 to 04:00 at the end of July (Noskov pers. Comm.). In the middle of the night, the activity decreases markedly, but does not stop completely, the frequency of arrivals to the nest is reduced by 10 times: from 15 arrivals in one hour to 1–2. In general, they are active from 20 h 30 min to 4 h 30 min at an illumination of no more than 1600 lux.

In nesting time it keeps in pairs and families, on migration and wintering one by one.

They sleep during the day in safe places, in the thick of bushes, on tree branches or on dead wood, very rarely on the ground. The sleeping bird closes its eyes, ruffles, "ears are pressed" to the head, keeps very alert.

Food

It hunts at night for large twilight insects, spiders, less often for murine rodents. The victim is grabbed with paws on the ground, on the surface of branches, from grass, tree trunks, sometimes in the air. Spiders are snatched from the web on the fly. Insects can be grabbed by one or two paws. It pre-cuts large prey: in insects it tears off its wings and legs, in rodents - its head, after which it swallows it whole or pinches it off in pieces. The prey is carried away in its paws or in its beak to the nearest tree, where it is killed by blows against branches or by squeezing the head and neck with its claws.

Chicks are fed by adults of lepidoptera (70%) and spiders (30%) (Pukinsky, 19746), orthopterans (grasshoppers and Prumnoa prumnoa filly), crickets and spiders (Nechaev, 1971). Inspection of food debris under the nesting hole (n = 50) showed that parents bring large moths (silkworms, scoops, hawk moths) to their chicks, less often a bear, moths, single locusts, and large caterpillars (Noskov, pers. Comm.). In another nest, the diet of chicks consisted of 65% of adult lepidoptera (hawk moths, bears, tapeworms, moths, etc.), 35% of caterpillars, orthoptera, and spiders. Crawling forms of insects are caught mainly in the second half of the night (Pukinskiy, 1977). When kept in captivity, chicks can eat a significant amount of food at a time - up to 30–35 g, which is one third of their mass (Noskov, pers. Comm.). In the stomachs of six adult birds, caught in July-September, spiders, orthoptera (wingless filly, grasshoppers Gapmsaeleis sedakowi), bears, earwigs (up to 78 individuals in one stomach), ground beetles (Carabus smaragdinus, C. conciliator, C. canaliculatus , Pretostiechus sp.), Weevils, ant cocoons, butterfly caterpillars, remains of other insects (Nechaev, 1971). Only when there are few insects, especially in early spring, does the Ussuriisky moth move to catching mouse-like rodents (Spangenberg, 1965, Pukinskiy, 1977).

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