Barking Owl (Ninox connivens)

Barking Owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Ninox connivens | [authority] Latham, 1801 | [UK] Barking Owl | [FR] Ninox aboyeur | [DE] Klafferkauz | [ES] Ninox Ladrador | [NL] Blafuil


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Ninox are hawk owls, ranging from small to large, with rounded heads without ear-tufts. They have long, pointed wings and a long tail. The nostrils are forward facing on an enlarged cere in an indistinct facial disk. There are at least 20 species in this genus, from Siberia through much of the Pacific rim, South-east Asia and Australasia.

Physical charateristics

The Barking Owl is coloured brown with white spots on its wings and a streaked chest. They have large eyes that have a yellow iris, a dark brown beak and almost no facial mask. Their underparts are brownish-grey and coarsely sotted white with their tail and flight feathers being moderately lighter in colour. They are a relatively medium sized owl and their wingspan is between 85-100 cm in length. They weigh between 425 and 510g and size varies only slightly between the male and female birds with the male Barking Owl being larger.

Listen to the sound of Barking Owl

[audio: Owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 85 cm wingspan max.: 100 cm
size min.: 38 cm size max.: 44 cm
incubation min.: 35 days incubation max.: 37 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 40 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 4  


Australasia : Moluccas, New Guinea, Australia. The Barking Owl is found in Northern Moluccas, New Guinea, and the more humid parts of Australia, on the mainland and some coastal islands in the north.


It is found in temperate and subtropical forest. Preferring open country with groups of trees, woodland, scrub, and savanna, it occurs in foothills along watercourses, swamp and riverside woodland.


The Barking Owl is an obligate hollow-nester, and pairs, which usually mate for the life of a partner, may re-use the same nest hollow for many years. Preferred hollows are usually large, with entrance diameters between 25-45cm, and internal depths of 20-250cm. The species nests between July and October, usually producing two or 3 eggs that take approximately 36 days to hatch. The young frequently remain with the parents until the following autumn or winter. Breeding success is apparently variable and probably low.

Feeding habits

The diet of Barking Owl is mainly mammals and birds, large insects and other invertebrates. In Southern Australia, it feeds particularly on rabbits, although it also kills young hares, rats, mice, small bats and some marsupials, including possums. It is known to take birds up to the size of the Australian Magpie and Tawny Frogmouth. Larger prey is torn up and eaten piece by piece, smaller items are swallowed whole.

Video Barking Owl


copyright: J. del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Usually found in pairs that occupy territories all year around. Each pair has a number of daytime roost sites, usually in a leafy tree among a group of trees, but not always well hidden. This owl is not shy, and can be seen around rural houses in Australia. It is the least nocturnal of Australian owls; sometimes calls during daytime, and on duller winter days may start hunting before sunset.
Except in parts of Queensland, and in the Kimberleys of Western Australia it is uncommon throughout Australia. In the Moluccas and New Guinea, it is thinly distributed, but becoming common in some localities.
Barking Owl status Least Concern


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Barking Owl distribution range map

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