• Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus (Gmelin, 1788)
  • Order Strigiformes
  • Family Strigidae
  • Category Introduced Birds
  • Location: Marquises : Hiva Oa – America (native).

Apearance and identification

22 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. This is the only nocturnal predator introduced in French Polynesia. The head is characteristic, with big round eyes and ears with erectile feathers. His body is brown, finely streaked with white and brown.

Videos

Voice

Characteristics

Native from America, introduced on the island of Hiva Oa in 1927 at a price of eight dollars to fight the invasion of rats.

Nests in the cliffs of Hiva Oa. Its reproduction is studied outside French Polynesia. Lays one to five white eggs, incubated it for 32 to 35 days. Young fly at the age of 9 to 10 weeks.

Both the coastal areas and interior of the island, but reproduces on the highlands.

« Hou-hou,… » , characteristic of the owls, squeals and yelps.

Rodents, lizards, fish and birds which unfortunately are endemic species of the Marquesas.

Location

Native from America, introduced on the island of Hiva Oa in 1927 at a price of eight dollars to fight the invasion of rats.

Breeding

Nests in the cliffs of Hiva Oa. Its reproduction is studied outside French Polynesia. Lays one to five white eggs, incubated it for 32 to 35 days. Young fly at the age of 9 to 10 weeks.

Habitat

Both the coastal areas and interior of the island, but reproduces on the highlands.

Voice

« Hou-hou,… » , characteristic of the owls, squeals and yelps.

Food

Rodents, lizards, fish and birds which unfortunately are endemic species of the Marquesas.

Status and protection

Common species in the Australasian region, the Swamp Harrier is suspected of being behind the disappearance of imperial pigeons Ducula in all Pacific islands where it was introduced. In Tahiti, the Swamp Harrier is probably responsible for the near extinction of the rupe (D. aurorae). He was seen capturing Tahiti Reed-warblers (A. caffer, species in danger of extinction) and causes alarm calls from the Tahiti Monarchs (Pomarea nigra species critically endangered). Endemic birds of the islands have evolved in environments free of predators, they have not developed during their evolution techniques to escape. They are often easy prey. Lorikeets (Vini sp.), Reed-warblers (Acrocephalus sp.), Swiftlets (Aerodramus sp.) and Fruit-doves (Ptilinopus sp.) are probably also its victims. Without his presence rodents could spread around islands: this argument is often the cause of its introduction. It could permanently eradicates the last surviving imperial pigeons on Nuku Hiva and Makatea (Ducula galeata and D. aurorae) or the magnificent Ultramarine Lorikeet and Rimatara Lorikeet (Vini ultramarina and V. kuhlii).

Its presence in these archipelagos or islands must be reported as soon as possible to the Direction of the Environment or to the SOP. The species was classified harmful in French Polynesia (see l’arrêté N°1301/CM du 15 novembre 2006), its destruction is permitted and desirable. The species is on the list of species threatening biodiversity through territorial regulatory French Polynesia.
It is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.