Owls of Okinawa by Shawn Miller

Okinawa has three resident species of Owls. They generally live in trees in mountain forests,  forest parks and sometimes in residential areas.  All three owls are fairly small (20-33cm). They are hard to find in the day, but as night falls their large shiny eyes give them away. These beautiful night dwellers feed on small lizards, rodents, frogs and insects.

The Collard Scops-owl (Otus lempiji) has beautiful red eyes and short pointy ears. It can be challenging to photograph owls. You have to be fast acting with your camera, the owls will fly off quickly after a few photographs.

This is an example of undesirable red eye reflected (Red-eye) below.  You generally want to try to avoid this but, I only had had a few shots with the flash on the camera, pointing straight at the owl high in a tree.

Collard Scops-owl - Okuma resort

Collard Scops-owl – Okuma resort

Collard Scops-owl - Yanbaru forest

Collard Scops-owl – Yanbaru forest

The Brown hawk owl (Ninox scutulata) is the most abundant of the three small owls. It has beautiful bright yellow eyes. This owl looks more like a hawk than an owl.

Brown hawk owl (Ninox scutulata)

Brown hawk owl (Ninox scutulata)

Brown hawk owl - Izena Island

Brown hawk owl – Izena Island

The Ryukyu scops owl (Otus elegans) is mainly found in the northern part of Okinawa. The Yanbaru forest is a designated wildlife protection area.

Ryukyu Scops Owl -Yanbaru

Ryukyu Scops Owl -Yanbaru

The owls are often found hunting on forest roads. The insects are attracted to the roadside lights which bring in the owls. The bush cricket (Mecopoda elongata) is one of their favourite meals.

Bush cricket (Mecopoda elongata)

Bush cricket (Mecopoda elongata)

I  wonder if the owls can see fluorescence. Many of the stick bugs, grasshoppers and crickets fluoresce under blue light,

Katydid under blue light

Katydid under blue light

Sadly I have seen more dead owls than alive!

Hawk owl - Ogimi village

Hawk owl – Ogimi village

Let’s protect the wildlife of the Yanbaru forest. Have a great day!