Southern Boobook Owl

Toni Kane

Mandurah, Australia

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Description: 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. Like other owl species, the Southern Boobook is nocturnal. Birds are often observed perched on an open branch or tree-top, emitting a distinctive ‘boo-book’ or ‘mo-poke’. Distribution and Habitat: 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. Food and feeding: 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. Breeding: 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.

Artwork Comments

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