Grass Owls are members of the Barn Owl family, Tytonidae, distinguished by their behavior of roosting and nesting in tall grasses or different ground-cowl plants, slightly than trees. Till fairly just lately all Grass Owls had been thought to belong to a single species, however there at the moment are two species recognised, the African Grass Owl, Tyto capensis, which is found across much of Africa, and the Jap Grass Owl, Tyto longimembris, which is present in south China, Nepal, India, Myanmar, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, New Caledonia and Australia. The Jap Grass Owl was first found in Thailand as lately as 2006, where a small colony was discovered nesting in a small space of marsh grassland known as Nong Lom in Mae Jan District in Chiang Rai Province in the north of the country.

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In a paper revealed in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology on 17 February 2015, Akalak Kunsorn of the Department of Biology at Chiang Mai College and the Environmental Ornithology Research Unit at Mahidol University, Siriwadee Chomdej of the Division of Biology and the Materials Science Analysis Middle at Chiang Mai University, Narit Sitasuwan, Prasit Wangpakapattawong and Chatmongkon Suwannapoom, also of the Division of Biology at Chiang Mai College and Brett Sandercock of the Division of Biology at Kansas State University, describe the outcomes of a study of the food regimen of the Grass Owls of Nom Long carried out by inspecting Owl pellets from the positioning through the breeding season.

Eastern Grass Owl, Tyto longimembris, in flight. Rob Hutchinson/The Owl Pages.

Birds lack teeth with which to process food like mammals, as an alternative grinding it up in a muscular gizzard before it’s handed to the stomach. As flying animals they’re obliged to keep their weight to a minimum, and therefore have to dispose of inedible elements of their prey as shortly as attainable, and so both Owls and Raptors regurgitate pellets comprising indigestible objects such as fur and bone with out passing them by means of the stomach and intestine.

As well as Grass Owls the Nom Lengthy site can also be residence to 4 species of Harriers; the Eastern Marsh Harrier, Circus spilonotus, the Pied Harrier, Circus melanoleucos, the Hen Harrier, Circus cyaneus and the Western Marsh Harrier, Circus aeruginosus. Grass Owl pellets are typically bigger and more elongate than Harrier pellets, however to keep away from confusion Kunsorn et al. collected pellets only from the nests of Owls.

Kunsorn et al. carried out DNA checks on bones recovered from Owl pellets at Nom Lengthy, so as to find out identify animals being consumed by the Owls. They had been in a position to establish three species of Rodent by this method, the Black Rat, Rattus rattus, the Asian Home Mouse, Mus musculus, and the Ricefield Mouse, Mus caroli. In addition wings and tails of Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica, had been also discovered in the Owl nests, suggesting that these Birds were additionally being consumed.

Pellets of the Eastern Grass Owl, Tyto longimembris, collected from nests at Nom Long. Kunsorn et al. (2015).

The diet of Japanese Grass Owls has beforehand been studied in southern Taiwan, the place they had been found to be consuming Lesser Rice-area Rats, Rattus losea, Ricefield Mice, Mus caroli, Formosan Blind Moles, Mogera insularis, House Shrews, Suncus murimus, Shrews Crocidura spp. and juvenile Formosan Hares, Lepus sinensis, in addition to small Birds. This can be a far bigger vary of prey than consumed on the Thai site, which Kunsorn et al. attribute to the more assorted looking grounds obtainable to the Taiwan Owls. Nom Long is basically surrounded by grasslands and wetlands, with some Orange orchard a few kilometre away to the northwest, whereas the Taiwan site was inside simple reach of shrubland, Rice paddies, Bamboo forest, Sugarcane fields, Mango orchards and Human settlements.

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