{Spam?} Re: {Spam?} Re: what is a Rufous Boobook?

To: "'martin cachard'" <>, "'david james'" <>, "'birding-aus threads'" <>
Subject: {Spam?} Re: {Spam?} Re: what is a Rufous Boobook?
From: "Jeff Davies" <>
Date: Fri, 6 May 2011 02:49:04 +1000
G'day Martin, thanks for this,


I didn't write any of the HANZAB text so I can't really answer for the
Boobook distribution as written, but I agree it's not a very specific

Your description of birds from the Cairns foothills sounds ocellata-like so
the HANZAB distribution may well not be accurate.

There is so much land south of the Wet Tropics where inland taxa range to
the coast I would be very surprised if ocellata doesn't do likewise. It
wouldn't surprise me if genuine ssp boobook cuts out a long way south, but
I'm only guessing at all this. David's description of birds around Paluma
also sounds like they too are ocellata influenced.

Interested to also hear what Lloyd has to say.


Cheers Jeff.




From: martin cachard  
Sent: Friday, 6 May 2011 1:21 AM
To: jeff davies; david james; birding-aus threads
Subject: RE: {Spam?} Re: {Spam?} Re: [Birding-Aus] what is a Rufous Boobook?


Hi Jeff, David, & everyone else
Talk about being put on the spot - thanks Jeff   !!    :-)    !!    :-)
This subject is not something that has come up much in discussion up here
lately, so I can't comment on a Wet Tropics consensus - I'm not sure how
others feel about this regional distribution of the Boobook ssp...
Lloyd Nielsen is currently away at the moment, but he will read all this &
we will see what he thinks pretty soon - I am certain he will have some
opinions on this one. I will talk to Del Richards to see what he thinks (but
Del does subscribe to this site, so he may add something before we get a
chance to discuss it). Hopefully, other opinions from the likes of Clifford
& Dawn Frith, Phil Gregory, Ben Blewitt, Dave Crawford, John Young, Graham
Harrington, Dawn Magarry, Alan Gillanders,..... etc etc..... can offer their
thoughts too....(If there are any other FNQ observers reading this & have
something to throw in, we would like to hear from you on this...).
But I can give you my own current thoughts ...
The HANZAB account, as David says, is very confusing. Firstly, I have always
thought that the Cape York Pen Biogeographical Region is north from Edward
River/Lakeland/Cooktown, but it is unclear in HANZAB as to where they are
referring when saying "the butt of Cape York Pen". So it is very hard to
understand the account's distributional notes as far as ssp go. Jeff, to
where is HANZAB referring when mentioning 'the butt'??
What the ssp actually is up here (boobook  v's ocellata) that abuts the
range of the very distinctive & local lurida is unknown to me. But I can
offer some records of birds that were definitely not lurida...
Around the dry foothills near Cairns (eg Smithfield Heights) we see a form
that is quite orange & quite streaky breasted. I have seen birds resembling
this plumage also on the mid-altitude drier eucalypt forests at locations
such as Koah, Davies Creek (below & above the w'falls), Emerald Creek &
further west out past Mareeba. I hadn't thought about this again until now &
I wish, like David, that I had taken more notice at these times & tried to
recognise what ssp I was observing...  Well, I guess these birds are still
around, so they can be studied further & be given a better description...
My lurida records go as far south as the Wallaman Falls Rd, which is north
of Paluma. My nothern limit personally is only as far north as Mt Lewis, but
they must occur for sure well to the north up onto the northern Windsor
Tablelands - how far north they get to, I'm not sure, but they could be as
far north as Big Tableland I would say, or even to Mt Amos or Mt Cook nearer
to Cooktown - I'm sure others can add their personal observations to this...
I have on a number of occasions, seen pale orange-breasted streakyy Boobooks
in cleared farmland that was formerly rainforested, adjacent to where lurida
occurs in neighbouring rainforest, & have seen lurida in similar habitats as
well. But I have never seen a bird that is intermediate between lurida & a
paler more orange-breasted ssp. A green-eyed spotty orange-breasted &
dorsally darker bird up here would be interesting; & so would a yellow-eyed
& very dark-red streaky-breasted bird - but I have seen neither, or anything
else resembling a possible lurida intermediate !! But they might be out

Like I said earlier guys, this is not much to offer but hopefully some
others up here can add their thoughts & opinioins....
Cheers for now
Martin Cachard


To: ; ; 
Subject: RE: {Spam?} Re: {Spam?} Re: [Birding-Aus] what is a Rufous Boobook?
Date: Thu, 5 May 2011 16:57:15 +1000n

Thanks for that David,


Boobooks are a classic example of a taxa that should be recorded to ssp.

Martin Cachard must be reading all this, well he is now because I just
copied him in, what is the local consensus opinion of  Boobooks in the Wet
Tropics Martin?.


Cheers Jeff.





From: David James  
Sent: Thursday, 5 May 2011 1:44 PM
To: Jeff Davies; 'Birding-aus'
Subject: {Spam?} Re: {Spam?} Re: [Birding-Aus] what is a Rufous Boobook?




Sorry don't have proof, only recollections. I was merely alerting people to
something I was looking into years ago and forgotten about. 

lurida is a very well marked form easily recognised in the upland and mid
altitude rainforests of the wet tropics. Except (and to correct my earlier
post) I don't think it occurs at all at Paluma in any habitat. my
recollection is that the birds at Paluma are mid rufous, spotted underneath,
lack a really dark solid breast band, more white on face and have well
marked upperparts. west of Paluma they become paler still, but I recall
seeing intermediate and pale ones in the same areas at different times.
Perhaps the intermediate ones are indeed ssp boobook. However, in drier
country to the west of Paluma and on the wet-dry flood plains to the South
(i.e the Townsville Coastal Plains) the birds are paler orangey and streaked
below more than spotted. Always seemed to me they must be ocellata. To the
east of Paluma on the narrow floodplain with hillside eucalypt woodlands,
lowland scrubs, paperbark swamps, mangroves and cane farms I can't recall
seeing any form of Boobooks. Seems to suggest some discontinuity or
something else going on.  


HANZAB states that ssp boobook extends to the base of CYP., where it abuts
ocellata [in west] is not clear, but boobook appears to extend to w. most
foothills of great divide; also abuts lurida to the north.

For ocellata: widely distributed in n, w. and central Aust incl. CYP. abuts
range of ssp boobook in E Aust and lurida near base of CYP.  

For lurida: From about Cooktown in N to Paluma in S. 


This doesn't reconcile. Where exactly is the base of CYP (in a
biogeographical sense)? There are several answers to that question, based on
general usage, though not all correct. Townsville, Paluma, Ingham, Cardwell,
Cairns, Port Douglas, Cooktown or Princess Charlotte Bay? Which one is used
here? If both ocellata and boobook abut lurida at the base of CYP then
lurida would have no range at all. Where are the western foothills of the
Great Divide in N. Qld? There isn't any Great Dividing Range between about
21 and 23 deg S; and from 21 to 19 deg the eastern foothills are 100-300 km
inland. From just north of Townsville (19 deg) the string of ranges forming
the Wet Tropics (starting with the Seaview Range S. of Paluma Range) forms a
functionally equivalent east coast range to the Great Divide on its eastern
side. As far as I can see it doesn't have the equivalent W slopes, however.
It is a complicated, mosaic landscape. There is an awful lot of dry tropical
savanna woodland south of CYP and not far inland that is not likely to be
occupied by the semi-mesic, SE ssp. boobook. 


I'm not trying to suggest that HANZAB got it wrong. HANZAB presented the
information that could be taken from the available resources (skins and
literature) at the time, and so little would be known without it. However,
the subspecies distribution account is clearly not definitive, whether any
of my observations are proved or not. 


Quite a few people on Birding -aus in the last few days indicated that they
record birds to subspecies level. How many systematically record things like
ocellata v. boobook v. indeterminate every time they see one?  I can't say I
do it with all suspecies all the time. I should though.   



From: Jeff Davies <>
To: 'David James' <>; 'John Leonard'
<>; 'Birding-aus' <>
Sent: Thursday, 5 May 2011 12:16 PM
Subject: Re: {Spam?} Re: [Birding-Aus] what is a Rufous Boobook?

G'day David,

I am very keen to see evidence of any hybrid lurida, photos or specimens,
because it would be new to me and a lot of other people to I suspect. HANZAB
states it is ssp boobook that abuts lurida not ocellata, but this would have
be the very northern most extension of boobook, so it would probably be
clining into ocellata. I just can't find any evidence for boobook and lurida
hybrids and there is certainly no clining going on. It would be a very quick
cline because I have heard of people who have seen both taxa in very close
proximity where rainforest and Eucalypt intersect on the tableland. 

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of David James
Sent: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 7:14 PM
To: John Leonard; Birding-aus
Subject: {Spam?} Re: [Birding-Aus] what is a Rufous Boobook?

I should add, what I interpret as intergrades between lurida and ocellata
occur west of Paluma and quite likely do so west of the entire Wet Tropics.
This is a very different situation to the sooty owls.   

From: David James <>
To: John Leonard <>; Birding-aus
Sent: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 6:50 PM
Subject: what is a Rufous Boobook?

I don't think the IOC have split the rainforest subspecies of boobook.
Confusingly, the IOC list calls Rufous Owl Ninox rufa "Rufous Boobook".
Incidently, I think there are two rainforest forms of Southern Boobook in
the rainforests of NQ. N. b. lurida is the widely known dark form in the
upland rainforests of the wet tropics. There is a paler rufous barred form
like a mini Rufous Owl in the lowland rainforests and forest edges that I
saw between Cardwell and Innisfail on a few occassions between 10 and 15
years ago. It doesn't seem to have a name, it is very different from either
lurida (very dark with a spotted breast) or the dry vegetation form in NQ,
ocellata (very brown with a streaked breast).   I don't know of any
reference to it in the literature, and perhaps there are no specimens.

From: John Leonard <>
To: Birding-aus <>
Sent: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 6:07 PM
Subject: The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?

I note that the recent IOC version 2.8 list splits the rufous form of
the Boobook found in north Qld from the non-rainforest form.


John Leonard

On 4 May 2011 13:00, Dave Torr <> wrote:
> Indeed - what is a species? To quote Darwin (who may have known a thing or
> two?)
> "No one definition has satisfied all naturalists; yet every naturalist
> vaguely what he means when he speaks of a species. Generally the term
> includes the unknown element of a distinct act of creation"
> The Guardian reckons there are around 26 different species concepts -
> I guess we are trying to categorise things which may not always fit into
> neat boxes that scientists desire - indeed as evolution progresses there
> rarely a clear dividing line between the end of one species and the start
> another.
> On 4 May 2011 12:27, Tim Dolby <> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> To determine taxonomical status Christidis and Bole use mainly
>> morphological and molecular characters, rather than things like
>> food, hunting, behaviour, breeding, and vocalisations. According to the
>> research carried out by C&B the Sooty and Lesser Sooty are less
>> morphologically different that many birds considered the same species. In
>> essence the specific status is substantiated by DNA evidence with
>> substitution in DNA-sequencing variable at subspecific level from zero to
>> 1%. Greater differences suggest species status. A good example of this is
>> found in Southern Boobook, with birds in Victoria being more
>> divergent from birds in northern NSW than Sooty Owl are from Lesser Sooty
>> Owl. In essence it depends on where you draw the line.
>> Quite clearly subspecies complex are poorly understood and further
>> work is required.
>> Personally I'd hoped that genetics would give us some clear answers when
>> determining species status, however quite obviously this is not the case
>> and from reading the comments here - it is still a matter of
>> Cheers,
>> Tim Dolby
>> ________________________________________
>> From:  [
>>  on behalf of Tony Russel [
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 12:21 PM
>> To: 'Chris Sanderson'
>> Cc: 'birding-aus threads'; 
>> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?
>> Hallo Chris, I'm not sure I deserved such a condemning response - I
>> certainly wasn't complaining about the published taxonomy - merely that I
>> choose not to go along with all of it and have in fact moved on without
>> some
>> of it.
>> And yes, I do keep the Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans separate from
>> the
>> subspecies nigrescens, flaveolus, subadelaidae,  fleurieuensis, and
>> melanoptera (on KI, and recently also on the tip of Cape Jervis where I
>> have
>> a property).
>> I do choose not to adhere slavishly to what the professionals dictate  .
>> That's not to say they are wrong, just that I choose otherwise.  I think
>> it's still a free world ?
>> Tony
>> From: Chris Sanderson 
>> Sent: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 11:18 AM
>> To: Tony Russel
>> Cc: martin cachard; ; birding-aus threads
>> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?
>> Do you all have Adelaide and Yellow Rosellas on your list as separate
>> species too?  They are pretty distinct from the Crimson Rosellas we have
>> locally but are the same species taxonomically also (for now at least, I
>> think there's a paper in the works on this).  Personally I'll leave
>> taxonomy
>> to the professionals.  If you have complaints, please publish a peer
>> reviewed journal article to rectify the taxonomic disparity rather than
>> complaining about others who have done good science.  Not saying you are
>> wrong about the Sooty Owl complex, but C&B is based on the best available
>> science at the time of writing, if you want it overturned, fix the
>> otherwise accept the umpire's decision and move on.
>> Regards,
>> Chris
>> On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 11:38 AM, Tony Russel <>
>> wrote:
>> I keep the Sooty and the Lesser Sooty Owls as two separate species.
>> who has seen them knows very well how different they are.
>> Tony
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: 
>>  On Behalf Of martin
>> cachard
>> Sent: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 10:10 AM
>> To: ; birding-aus threads
>> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?
>> Hi Patrick
>> When you come up to FNQ & hopefully observe the local Lesser Sooty Owl,
>> can't  'officially' count it as a new species tick (unless of course, you
>> are yet to see a Sooty Owl further south!!).
>> BUT, this 'lumping' by C&B 2008 is strongly disputed by many, including
>> many
>> of us up here more familiar with this bird in the field than some
>> taxonomists.
>> So Patrick,  come up here, find & enjoy the bird, record that you've
>> observed it, & in time,  I'm sure that you will find that this local bird
>> will be split again from the Sooty Owl & given the full species
>> it deserves. Some of us up here are currently working on this to be
>> rectified....but there is much work still to be done on this
>> one....(amongst
>> some other lumps/splits of FNQ birds).
>> As for further answers to your questions about what is tickable (or not)
>> due
>> to a species' status, I'm sure someone else more qualified than me can
>> to explain this to you.
>> But for my own records list, I just make sure what birds I observe are
>> recorded to sub-species level - changes in the taxonomy of our birds, &
>> accordingly our official list (whatever the source of it), will continue
>> occur. For now, I keep my records as per the current C&B species list as
>> is defined in 2008 because this is the current official species list,
>> like/agree with it or not. I can update my full species list as the
>> to the official list occur since I have a record of the sub-species I
>> seen & where. I think you will find that most Aust birders do the same
>> thing
>> or similar.
>> Someone else I'm certain, will add a better & more scientific explanation
>> about your other questions - I,  for now, just wanted to put my gripe out
>> there about the poor lumping of Lesser Sooty Owl on behalf of several
>> dismayed local FNQ birders !!
>> Obviously Patrick, as it stands now I haven't got a Lesser Sooty Owl on
>> species list - just 2 sub-species/races of Sooty Owl....
>> Cheers
>> Martin Cachard
>> Cairns
>> 0428 782 808
>> > Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 09:11:11 +1000
>> > From: 
>> > To: 
>> > Subject: [Birding-Aus] The Lesser Sooty Owl and Sooty Owl?
>> >
>> > Hi All,
>> > After reading Sean Dooley's reply to Paul, I have been trying to figure
>> out
>> > what happened with the Christidis and Boles list with regards to the
>> Lesser
>> > Sooty Owl. In the guide books they are a different size and live in
>> > different parts of the country, so why is the Lesser Sooty Owl no
>> > counted as a separate species? Does this mean that if I am lucky enough
>> to
>> > see the owl formally known as the Lesser Sooty Owl on the Atherton
>> > Tableland that I will be seeing the Sooty Owl? Can someone please
>> > this to me or at least if it makes no sense to others then, what is the
>> > official explanation? And I have been trying to figure out the
>> conspecific
>> > term. C & D still have some species as separate (tickable) but as
>> > conspecific. Are they saying that as with the Western Wattlebird and
>> Little
>> > Wattlebird that at some stage millions of years ago they were one
>> species?
>> > Thanks,
>> > Patrick Scully
>> > ===============================
>> >
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>> >
>> > <> 
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John Leonard

I want to be with the 99,999 other things.

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