A new species of masked-owl (Aves: Strigiforrmes: Tytonidae) from Seram, Indonesia

We describe a new species of masked-owl from the lower montane forest of Seram, one of the largest islands in the Moluccas of eastern Indonesia, for which we propose the name Tyto almae (Seram Masked-Owl), sp. nov. Molecular (mitochondrial cyt-b) differences show that Tyto sororcula of Buru and Tanimbar is closely related to T. novaehollandiae of Australia and New Guinea (~1% uncorrected pairwise distance), and that Tyto almae of Seram differs by ~3% (uncorrected pairwise distance) from both of them. These differences are further corroborated by morphology and colouration. Although a photograph from Seram published in 1987 had already established the presence of a Tyto owl on the island, ours represents the first specimen of this species. The bird was mist-netted in wet, mossy lower montane forest at an elevation of 1,350 m. No further observations of the owl were made during four weeks of fieldwork in Seram.