I have wondered about the same thing. I think in most parts of Australia the
Boobook is the most common and accessible owl species. With 17 years of
Canberra GBS data, I thought to check whether records (which are based
around weeks) were more or less in number during any particular moon phases.
To do a detailed analysis would take a long time, so I had a quick "eyeball"
investigation to decide whether such an effort was warranted. The records
for Boobook show numbers highest in spring to early summer months with a
marked reduction in winter. The broad spread of records provides nothing
that is at all even suggestive of a four week cycle that could be associated
with lunar phases. Presumably most records are based on birds heard at
night, when recorded from calling, although some records are birds seen and
that could compromise an analysis.
From: John Leonard <>
Date: Sunday, 31 January 1999 9:36
Subject: birding-aus owl watching
>Last night I went down to Royal National Park, Lady Carrington Drive north
>end, to try to see the resident pair of Sooty Owls.
>I found Michael Ronan and wife already there, and together we listened from
>dusk for an hour and a half. During this time we heard two birds trilling
>and givign the odd descendign whistle from the tall eucalypts on the bluff
>on the east side of the track beyond the crossing.We also heard a few
>and one whistle from the other side of the creek (last year's young,
>bird entirely?). We played the tape and got a few answering whistles, but
>the birds were completely unexcitied by the tape and after about an hour
>fell silent (presumably they flew off to another part of their territory)
>without our having seen them.
>I had heard they were much more vocal and visible than this, perhaps
>recently a rival bird has tried to take over their territory and they have
>been defending it (in Jan 97 when I was at Julatten, the resident Lesser
>Sooty was very vocal out of season, which the owner attributed to a rival
>bird passing through).
>I would like to know, on the subject of moonlight, whether Sooties, or
>spp of owl, are more or less vocal on moonlit nights, of whether it doesn't
>make any difference.
>On the way back to the car, on the west side of the track in dense eucalypt
>regrowth about 200m before the road, we heard a Masked Owl calling, but
>equally unsuccessful in locating it.
>John Leonard (Dr),
>PO Box 243,
>Woden, ACT 2606,
>"Remove whatever remains" Rumi
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