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Stunning photo of Serendieb Scops Owl chicks

While searching for endangered endemic birds in Asia in February 2015, Google presented a trip report by a British birder who had visited Sri Lanka three times to see one endemic: the Serendeb Scops Owl. His report inspired me so much that I immediately asked my travel agent to make arrangements.

Having visited Sri Lanka several times, I had never had the opportunity to explore the endemic-rich country for birds. A few days later, I arrived in Colombo and drove straight to Kitulgala. The Serendeb Scops Owl was at the top of my list of birds I wanted to see and photograph. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the owl in Kitulgala. My next stop was Sinharaja National Park.

On my second day there, a local spotter, a curious young man with a ponytail, whispered to me while I was eating breakfast that he had discovered a pair of red owls never seen before in a bamboo forest in the back. I jumped to my feet, putting an end to my breakfast, and ran out with him to board our jeep. We arrived at the location he intended in less than 10 minutes.

We immediately saw that lovely sight: two cute owl chicks were roosting almost in the open. Chandima, my knowledgeable tour guide, recognized the species right away. He later told me that our photos were most likely the first ever taken of Serendeb Scops Owl chicks. The Serendeb Scops Owl (Otus thilohoffmanni) is one of the endangered and recently discovered birds of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan ornithologist Deepal Warakagoda originally located the species on 23 January 2001 in Sinharaja and formally declared it as a species new to science in 2004.

Location: Sinharaja National Park, Sri Lanka