Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook)

Southern Boobook

[order] STRIGIFORMES | [family] Strigidae | [latin] Ninox boobook | [authority] Gmelin, 1788 | [UK] Southern Boobook | [FR] Ninoxe d’Australie | [DE] Sudlicher Kauz | [ES] Ninox Australiano | [NL] Australische Boeboekuil


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 Southern Boobook is the smallest (28 – 36 cm) and most common owl in Australia. It is identified by its plumage, which is dark chocolate-brown above and rufous-brown below, heavily streaked and spotted with white. The bill is grey with a darker tip, and the feet are grey or yellow. The facial disc is chocolate brown and the eyes are large and yellowish. Tasmanian birds are smaller and more heavily spotted with white, while birds of the Cape York rainforests are slightly larger and darker. Young Southern Boobooks are almost entirely buff-white below, with conspicuous dark brown facial discs.

Listen to the sound of Southern Boobook

[audio: Boobook.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 70 cm wingspan max.: 85 cm
size min.: 27 cm size max.: 35 cm
incubation min.: 34 days incubation max.: 35 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 40 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Australasia : Lesser Sundas, South New Guinea, Australia


Southern Boobooks are found throughout mainland Australia and Tasmania, and on some coastal islands. They are seen in a variety of habitats from dense forest to open desert. Closely related species are found in New Zealand, New Guinea and Indonesia.


Southern Boobooks breed from September to February each year, with most activity occurring in October. The nest is normally a tree hollow, which is usually sparsely lined with wood shavings, leaves and small twigs, but may be left bare. The female alone incubates the eggs, but both sexes, and sometimes a second female helper, feed the two to three (occasionally up to five) young. The young birds stay in the nest until they are five or six weeks old.

Feeding habits

The Southern Boobook feeds on insects, small mammals (such as the House Mouse, Mus musculus ) and other small animal species. Feeding takes place mostly at night but some afternoon and morning activity may occur, especially on dull days. Most prey is detected by listening and watching from a suitable tall perch. Once detected, flying prey, such as moths and small bats, are seized in mid-air, while ground-dwelling prey are pounced upon.

Video Southern Boobook


copyright: Rigdon Currie


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not 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.
Southern Boobook status Least Concern


Presumed resident

Distribution map

Southern Boobook distribution range map

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