Owl near Melbourne - is this a Boobook?

To: "'L&L Knight'" <>, "'Cheryl Ridge'" <>
Subject: Owl near Melbourne - is this a Boobook?
From: "Sean Dooley" <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 01:00:43 +1100
Hi Cheryl and Laurie,

I am afraid I have to disagree with Laurie on this one. For while I also
claim not to be much of an owl expert, I am pretty confident that this is a
Boobook Owl. 
I am not exactly sure what Laurie means by the shape of the head,
particularly as you don't get a great idea of the shape from the angle of
the shot, but to me it has a typical nuggety look, characteristic of a
Boobook. Barking Owl supposedly has a more elongated posture but what
clinches it for me is the pattern down the front. In a Boobook it is more of
a spotted pattern like this bird, especially on the chest, whereas a Barking
has fairly uniform streaks on its underside. The colour seems too rich down
the front for a Barking, which to my mind tend to essentially be a bird with
a white underside with dark streaks, while a Boobook appears more like a
brownish bird with white marks. 
Even though there is no real way to judge the size of this bird, it does not
seem powerfully built enough to be a Barking. The feet also don't seem to be
powerful enough. Though not as massive as say, a Masked Owl, the feet of a
Barking would look bigger than they do on this bird. And even though it is
hard to judge true colour in such strong light, I think a Barking Owl's feet
would appear much brighter yellow than this bird's feet. 
With the angle, you can't really see the dark goggles that are diagnostic of
a Boobook, but you do get an impression of them around the bird's right eye.
And you also get a slight sense of the white x across the face that is also
typical of a Boobook.
This has little to do with confirming the ID but Barking Owl is quite rare
around Melbourne, indeed throughout Victoria. There are still recent records
of Barking in outer Melbourne, but Boobooks, while not exactly common, are
far more regular in the suburban area, especially along the Yarra with a
pair known to have bred in recent years in Kew, and a non-birding friend of
mine saw and photographed a Boobook on Saint Patricks Cathedral in the CBD
last winter. At first he thought it was a particularly life-like gargoyle!

I hope that others can prove me correct, or I will look like a right goose.

Cheers, Sean

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of L&L Knight
Sent: Tuesday, 29 January 2008 10:29 PM
To: Cheryl Ridge
Subject: Owl near Melbourne - is this a Boobook?

I'm not an owl expert Cheryl, but I can say that it is definitely a  
Ninox and it looks like a Barking Owl to me - particularly the shape  
of the head.  Regards, Laurie.

On 29/01/2008, at 5:36 PM, Cheryl Ridge wrote:

> Hi
> I photographed an owl near Melbourne yesterday:
> If someone could id it for me I would be most grateful
> as I have only seen and photographed the Powerful Owl
> in the wild.
> I am keen to see other owls so if anyone knows of any
> 'reliable' places near to Melbourne (not zoo) Id love
> to know.
> Thankyou
> Cheryl Ridge

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