Owl near Melbourne - is this a Boobook?

To: "Sean Dooley" <>
Subject: Owl near Melbourne - is this a Boobook?
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 05:54:08 +1000
I wouldn't worry about looking the goose Sean - when you say you are no expert then you have a clear get-out clause.

I've only seen Boobooks in Qld and WA and the diurnally active posture of the bird in the picture reminded me of the Barking Owl that comes out in the raptor display at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. All the Boobooks I've seen looked hunched and the bird in the picture didn't appear to have the characteristic goggles.

Regards, Laurie

[A non-Canadian Goose]

On 30/01/2008, at 12:00 AM, Sean Dooley wrote:

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: Re: [Birding-Aus] 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:


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.


Cheryl Ridge


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