No Laughing Matter

Since its call was said to sound like human laughter, the extinct White-Faced Owl (Sceloglaux albifacies) is also called Laughing owl. The nocturnal owl was native to New Zealand. According to reports by European settlers from the early 19th century, the shy bird rarely showed - but from time to time, one could hear it laughing characteristically in its hiding place. The last photo of a White-Faced Owl dates back to the year 1910. Until the 1940s, there were still occasional but unconfirmed sighting reports. By 1944 the Laughing Owl was finally considered to be extinct . On display in Room XXXII. (© NHM Wien, Lois Lammerhuber)