Boobook Owl

Scientific Name: Ninox novaeseelandiae

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Justin Sinclair, Gold Coast, QLD
Helen Philp, North Ryde
Donna Brown, Farmborough Heights

Did You Know?

The main threat to this animal is habitat clearance. If their trees are cut down this species will have no hollows in which to breed.

The boobook owl does not posses the distinctive facial mask of the barn or masked owls. Boobooks are the smallest of the Australian owl species but they vary in size depending on where they live. Their colour is dark brown with spots of white and grey. The eyes are often bright yellow.


The boobook is found living in areas from rainforest to desert and it’s distinctive “boo-book” or “more-pork” call can even be heard in the inner city suburbs. It is also found in some parts of New Guinea and Indonesia, with a closely related species in New Zealand. It often spends the day in the hollows of trees or in rocks crevices. Sometimes it will rest in the foliage of trees but it is often harassed by smaller birds in such a situation. The boobook owl is able to blend well into its environment courtesy of their finely mottled plumage.


The boobook is renown for its acrobatic skills in catching invertebrate prey such as moths, beetles, spiders and crickets. Vertebrates, such as rodents, small bats and birds are also taken. The entire prey is swallowed and the indigestible parts are regurgitated as a pellet at a later date.


Their breeding season is usually late winter to early summer. They lay rounded eggs, white in colour, with 2 to 3 eggs per clutch. The nest is usually in a tree hollow and has a bed of chewed wood chips on the floor. The female incubates the eggs for around a month and she is fed by the male during this period.