Christmas Island Hawk-owl (Ninox natalis)

Christmas Island Hawk-owl

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Ninox natalis | [authority] Lister, 1889 | [UK] Christmas Island Hawk-owl | [FR] Ninoxe de Christmas | [DE] Christmas-Insel-Kauz | [ES] Ninox de la Navidad | [NL] Kerstmiseiland valkuil


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

Small, rufous-brown hawk-owl. Sexes similar, female slightly larger. Rufous-brown upperparts. Rows of small, white spots on secondary coverts, scapulars and tertials. Darker brown barring on remiges and tail. Underparts barred rufous and white. Underwing rufous-brown on coverts, barred light and dark grey on remiges. Yellow legs and feet. White lores, short supercilia and chin. Bright yellow iris in small, dark disc. Juvenile downier with whitish underside and head. Voice Double-noted hoot boo-book, second note usually lower in pitch than first. Juvenile begging call, high-pitched trill

Listen to the sound of Christmas Island Hawk-owl

[audio: Island Hawk-owl.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 26 cm size max.: 29 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 65 days fledging max.: 75 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Indian Ocean : Christmas Island. The Christmas Island Hawk-Owl is restricted to Christmas Island, a 135 square kilometre (52 square mile) Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, 360 kilometres (223.6 miles) south of Java


It occupies permanent territories in all habitats on the island to 360 m, although it is absent from mined sites that have not been rehabilitated. The species does however occupy re-established vegetation of over c.10 years in age on old mining sites.


Breeding season seem to be prolonged, with records in all quarters of the year. Nests recorded have been in tree hollows. Chicks take about 68 to 77 days from hatching to fledging, and are dependent on their parents for at least 2.5 Months after that. Clutch size usually 2 eggs. No further data.

Feeding habits

Its diet consists primarily of insects supplemented with small vertebrates, possibly including the introduced black rat Rattus rattus


This species is classified as Vulnerable because it has a very small range on one very small island, and it is susceptible to the effects of introduced taxa. It had previously been listed as Critically Endangered but was downlisted following control of the yellow crazy ant Anoplolepis gracilipes, which is ongoing.
Ninox natalis is restricted to Christmas Island (to Australia) in the Indian Ocean. The species is present throughout the island, with highest densities occurring in primary forest and the lowest in regrowth after mining. The population was estimated at about 600 pairs in 1995 and c.1000 individuals in 2004. It is suspected to have declined in the recent past, although numbers are now thought to be more or less stable,
Christmas Island Hawk-owl status Vulnerable


Presumed sedentary

Distribution map

Christmas Island Hawk-owl distribution range map

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