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Boobook Owls

Ninox novaeseelandiae
Boobook Owls
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern

The Southern Boobook also called the Tasmanian spotted owl.  This bird is the smallest owl in Australia and is the continent's most widely distributed and common owl.  The bird has almost 20 alternative common names, most of which including mopoke, moreport, ruru and boobook itself - are onomatopoeic, as they emulate the bird's distinctive two - pitched call.  Two subspecies, the Lord Howe Boobook and the Norfolk Island Boobook, both became extinct during the 20th century.

It occurs in most habitats with trees, ranging from deep tropical forests to isolated stands at the edges of arid zones, farmland, alpine grasslands or urban area, but is most common in temperate woodland.  They are usually seen singly, in pairs, or in small family groups of an adult pair and up to three young.  Although mainly nocturnal, they are sometimes active at dawn and dusk.  The main hunting times are evenings and mornings, with brief bursts of activity through the night.  On dark nights they often perch through the middle hours and, particularly if the  weather is bad, may hunt by daylight instead.

Although their main hunting technique is perch-and-pounce, they are agile birds with a swift, goshawk-like wing action and the ability to manoeuvre rapidly when pursuing prey or hawking for insects.  Almost any suitably sized prey is taken, particularly small birds, mammals and large insects.  Almost any suitably sized prey is taken, particularly small birds, mammals and large insects such as moths, grasshoppers and, in New Zealand, wetas.  During the day, moreporks sleep in roosts.  By night they hunt a variety of animals - mainly large invertebrates including scarab and huhu beetles, moths and caterpillars, weta and spiders.  They also take small birds, rats and mice.  They can find suitable food in pine forests as well as native forests. 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Boobook Owls", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.