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Southern Boobook - BirdForum Opus

Most likely subspecies boobook
Photo © by julien
Eagle Point, Gippsland Lakes Victoria Australia, January 2005
Ninox boobook


25-36 cm (9¾-14¼ in), with females larger than males.
Upperside is brown with white spots, underside buffy or white with brown streaks or spots, quite variable. Around the eye is a dark area surrounded by pale feathering ("spectacles" or "goggles"), and eyes are pale greenish yellow.


Adult ocellata
Photo © by peterday
Oakland Estate Reserve, South Australia, December 2020
Juvenile ocellata
Photo © by Greg McKay
Castlemaine Botanical gardens, Victoria, Australia, February 2010

Race lurida (Red Boobook) from north-eastern Queensland lacks the white spots on upperside, have dark underside, seems to lack the pale spectacles, and show differences in song and song activity. This may warrant full species status.

Other subspecies also differ quite strongly in plumage.


Parts of Indonesia (from east of Timor) and southern New Guinea and all of Australia.


Sumba Boobook, Tasmanian Boobook , Morepork, Rote Boobook, Timor Boobook, and Alor Boobook were formerly included in Southern Boobook.


Clements recognizes these subspecies[1]:

  • N. n. moae: Moa, Leti and Romang islands (east of Timor)
  • N. n. cinnamomina: Babar Island (east of Timor)
  • N. n. pusilla: Southern New Guinea
  • N. n. ocellata: Sawu (Lesser Sundas) and Australia (except east coast)
  • N. n. boobook: Coastal eastern Australia (north to southern Queensland)
  • N. n. lurida: North-eastern Australia (north-eastern Queensland between Cooktown and Paluma)


Just about everywhere where trees can be found, including in towns.


Hides well during day but sits on bare branches etc at night sallying out to catch insects.


Their main diet consists of insects, but they also eat mice and other small mammals.


The nominate form is known for its oft repeated call, a quick, falcetto "boobook".


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Verbelen 2010. Asian enigma: First field observations of Ninox (novaeseelandiae) rotiensis on Roti island, Lesser Sundas, Indonesia. BirdingASIA 13: 85-89.
  4. Avibase
  5. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved April 2015)
  6. Olsen, P.D. and J. S. Marks (2020). Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.souboo8.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1