New Zealand Morepork Ninox novaehollandiae ?

To: Carl Clifford <>
Subject: New Zealand Morepork Ninox novaehollandiae ?
From: Michael Tarburton <>
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008 09:14:08 +1100
G'day Carl & Birding Aus Contributors

The name Ninox novaehollandiae goes back a long way, to Gmelin in fact in 1788 when he named the Boobook. It was used by Buller in 1888 in his Birds of New Zealand where he states "... ranges to New Guinea, Australia and Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands. There are various subspecies in Australia where it is known as the Boobook Owl and occasionally also as 'Mopoke', although the latter name is often applied through confusion of the birds' calls to another nocturnal species, the Tawny

That name has continued to be used for the NZ birds. (fide Readers Digest Complete Book of New Zealand Birds1985, and Falla Sibson & Turbott (1979) The New Guide to the Birds of New Zealand).

The rest of the world has tended to call the bird Ninox novaeseelandiae (fide Howard & Moore 1980) for a long time. Even my old Caley 1959 edition uses novae-zeelandiae.

Scientific names are not as stable or as consistent as some would have you believe. The Gulls in NZ and Aus is another confused case and if you want to see more look at the file called Alternative bird names at

List are just lists and names are just names reflecting individuals knowledge and biases, none are the ultimate truth.

Have fun


Michael Tarburton


On 27/01/2008, at 4:30 PM, Carl Clifford wrote:

Dear all,

I am reading the latest issue of the Oriental Bird Club's journal BirdingASIA at the moment. In a letter to the editor by the authors of an article from a previous edition there is a mention of a species of Ninox, "New Zealand Morepork Ninox novaehollandiae".

Is this a taxonomic change that missed Christidis & Boles 2007? I have done a search on the net and trawled through my own references and can find no mention. Can any Birding-Ausers shed any light?


Carl Clifford

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