Local subspecies: Aegolius harrisii iheringi,
distributed in C and E Brazil and in neighbouring countries
(Holt et al. 1999).
Synonyms: Nyctale harrisii CASSIN 1849; Gisella iheringi SHARPE 1899
Figure 1. I encountered the Buff-fronted Owl Aegolius harrisii in RPPN Mãe-da-lua for the first time in June 2011, in an area of secondary Caatinga in the lowland of the reserve. In February 2012, I looked for it again, and tried to attract it with playback in the early morning hours (before dawn), during two or three days. Initially, I had no success, but on 11/02/2012, I finally found Aegolius harrisii, close to the place where I had first met it in 2011. In response to playback, the Buff-fronted Owl perched on a branch 3-4 meters in front of me, and gave the song which can be downloaded below (figure 2).
The next day, I went out again, to take a photo. This time, I met the Buff-fronted Owl (maybe not the same individual?) at a different place, about 1000-1200 meters away from the first location. Habitat was again secondary Caatinga, in the lowland of the RPPN. It was easy to attract the bird with playback, and I took several photos from a distance of 7-10 meters, using a handheld torchlight and the built-in flash of my 20D Canon camera for illumination. Thanks to Raimundinho for his assistance.
There are only very few registers of Aegolius harrisii in the Caatinga sensu stricto (see the wikiaves registers). It is not clear, though, whether the owl is really so rare, or whether the scarcity of registers can be explained by the discrete habits of this bird during most of the year. In any event, the secondary arboreal Caatinga habitat where I found Aegolius harrisii, is not that extraordinary.
Last record in mdl: 27/05/2013, starting about 18h50, long series of songs close to my house, direction salitro. It has stopped raining about 1 week ago. Distance from my house: 30 meters? At 19h14, it is still singing, but at a more distant location.To top of page
The Buff-fronted Owl came to sit on a branch about 3-4 meters away from me, and sang for nearly 2 minutes before it flew away. The vocalization consisted of 11 repetitions of a single phrase like the one shown above, with variations, and breaks of several seconds between phrases. The amplitude fluctuations of the sound are typical for Aegolius harrisii, and help to identify the species.
Also: Barred Forest-Falcon Micrastur ruficollis.