Alice Springs Desert Park

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Formerly and commonly known as the Southern Boobook, the Australian Boobook (Ninox boobook) is the smallest of the owls native to Australia. The name change to Australian Boobook is the official name designated by the International Ornithological Committee.1

The smallest and most common of the owls in Australia, the Australian Boobook are often observed perched on an open branch or tree-top, often emitting their distinctive ‘boo-book’ or ‘mo-poke’ call.

Their plumage is a dark chocolate-brown above and rufous-brown below, being heavily streaked and spotted with white. Their bill is grey with a darker tip, whilst their feet are grey or yellow in colour. The facial disc is a chocolate brown and the eyes are large and can be white to a light yellow. The juvenile Australian Boobooks are almost entirely buff-white below, with conspicuous dark brown facial discs.

They feed on insects, small mammals and feed mainly at night, but can sometimes be observed in the morning and late afternoon, especially on overcast days.

Images © Dorothy L / Images © Ausemade PL

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  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Strigidae
  • Genus: Ninox
  • Species: N. boobook
  • Binomial name: Ninox boobook

Images © Dorothy L

Footnote & References

  1. English Name Updates, IOC World Bird List – IOC Version 9.1 (Jan 20, 2019).
  2. Australian Boobook,