General Description

Upper body dark brown with white spots, underparts paler, ranging from cream to buff with dark brown streaks or white spots. Eyes large and green-yellow. Young birds are mainly white on the face with streaked underparts. Bill to tail length is up to 36 cm.


Southern Boobooks are the most common and widespread owl in Australia. They belong to the 'hawk owl' group due to their hawk-like facial features. They mainly hunt in the evenings and mornings, but also hunt over short periods throughout the night. They roost in trees with dense leaves. Southern Boobooks prey on insects and vertebrates, eating almost anything that is of a suitable size. To catch ground-dwelling prey, they pounce from a nearby perch. They are also agile flyers where their quick manoeuvrability allows them to catch flying prey, including moths and small bats, in mid-air. Southern Boobooks nest in a tree hollow and use leaves and small sticks to form a sparse lining. Females incubate the eggs but both sexes feed the chicks. Southern Boobooks have a distinctive low frequency, repetitive two-note call that sounds like "boo-book" or "mo-poke". They are heard more often than they are seen. They are Australia's smallest owl.


Mainland Australia and Tasmania as well as some offshore islands.


A variety of habitats from dry dense forests and woodlands to open desert.

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