Bird of the month – Southern Boobook

Boobook Owl - photo by Scott Humphris

Boobook Owl – photo by Scott Humphris

What a rare treat it is to see an owl during the day.

This month we are highlighting the splendid southern boobook, a nocturnal bird you may get lucky enough to spot during the day if its roost among dense foliage or in a hollow is visible, or if smaller birds screeching and squawking draw your attention to its presence.

At night, this owl will hunt insects, small mammals, and small birds, using its incredible eyesight.

The southern boobook (known in some regions as the mopoke), takes the record for Australia’s smallest and most common owl, and can be identified by its plumage, which is dark chocolate-brown above and rufous-brown below, with colourful streaks and spotted with white.

The facial disc is dark brown, and its large yellow eyes have a stare that is hypnotising.

The southern boobook will detect most of its prey by listening and watching from a high perch. Once the owl senses some flying prey, such as moths and small bats, the owl swoops in and snatches the meal mid-flight.

If the owl detects a ground-dwelling prey, it makes the most of its talons and pounces.

The southern boobook usually makes a nest in a tree hollow, lined with wood shavings, leaves and small twigs, or left bare. The female alone incubates the eggs.

Next time you are in local forests or woodland, keep an ear out for distressed smaller birds calling, and it may mean a southern boobook is somewhere nearby preparing for night.

Melissa Marie

Photos by Scott Humphris

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