To: Murray Lord <>, "" <>
Subject: Lurida
From: David James <>
Date: Fri, 6 May 2011 01:40:50 -0700 (PDT)
This email responds to a series of sub threads on lurida.
Murray Lord asked:
"If the lurida subspecies does abut other forms without any significant 
introgression, then surely lurida deserves to be split under the biological 
species concept?....  I wonder if anyone has looked into their calls?"
I do not have all the literature to hand, but.... I think the "Red Boobook Owl" 
or "Northern Boobook Owl" Ninox lurida has been regarded as a separate species 
in the past. I can't recall where, but possibly the RAOU Checklist 1926 and/or 
Cayley's "What Bird is That?". Apparently Mathew's 1916 treated it as a 
separate species under the name N. boweri, which is a junior synonym to lurida. 
It was treated as a subspecies of  N. novaeseelandiae by Peters (Checklist of 
the birds of the world), Mees (1964: Zool. Verh. 65: 1-62), Condon (1975: 
Checklist of the Birds of Aust, Part 1, RAOU), and a subspecies of  N. boobook 
by Schodde & Mason (1981: Nocturnal Birds of Australia, Landowne Press) and 
Schodde & Mason (1997: Zool. Cat. Aust. 35.2).  I doubt that Mees or Schodde & 
Mason (1981) would have kept it lumped if they could find no evidence of 
introgression, but I can't recall what they said, and haven't got ready access 
to them.  David Hollands was
 suffieciently impressed that he planned  to give lurida a chapter of its own 
in "Birds of the Night" (1991). Unfortunately he didn't get the footage. 
I've not heard of a study on the calls. Might not resolve much. I bet the calls 
are more different between males and females within a taxon than between taxa 
within each sex, so a statistically significant difference could be hard to 
find. Still, you never know.  
Martin Cachard wrote:
"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..."

According to Storr (1984: Revised List of Qld Birds, Rec. WAM Suppl. 19) lurida 
occurs from Mt Amos (S of Cooktown) to Mt Spec (Paluma). Storr did not 
recognise ocellata in Qld (nor in his WA checklists, for the record).  The 
farthest north I recall seeing it is Mt Windsor. Incidentally, no Wet Tropics 
birds actually go as far south as Mt Spec and no farther. Those that make it to 
Mt Spec all go at least as far as Mt Cataract (Black River) at the s. end of 
the Seaview Range, just w. of Townsville, and most go a bit farther s. (but 
that's a different thread).  
Martin Cachard also wrote:
"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"
These sound more like ocellata than boobook, though it's hard to be certain. 
Chris Sanderson provided links to some interesting shots of rainforest ninox 
owl from Paluma: 
Jeff Davies has already replied that he doesn't think they look like pure 
lurida.  I tend to agree, especially due to the extensive white around the 
face. It's not a typical ssp boobook either, and definately not ocellata. 
However, I wouldn't conclude that lurida intergrades with boobook on that 
evidence alone. Nevertheless, Chris's shots did help trigger a little more of 
my woeful memory. I do recall seeing birds similar to this around Paluma and 
the edge of the range (a km or 2 east of Paluma) on occasions when I lived in 
Townsville between 1989 and 2002. At first I thought they were lurida. The 
general consensus amongst Townsville birders at the time was that they were 
lurida. However, over time I saw birds that were a bit paler, further down the 
range, and also around the crest of the range, a few km further west (but still 
in rainforest). Then there were some birds that were obviously paler. But never 
any that were completely convincing of
 lurida like seen at the Atherton Tablelands. After a while I wasn't sure that 
pure lurida occurred at Paluma at all (though they might). It's note worthy 
that Paluma largely lacks the sharp ecotonal boundaries between farmland and 
rainforest as found for e.g. on the Atherton Tablenands. For decades the 
rainforest has been marching out as understorey beneath the tall wet 
schlerophyl country to the west. This graduating landscape might suit an 
intermediate bird a little better.  
Another returning memory
In about 1991 I had a brief look at the skins of Boobooks in the Aust. Mus in 
Sydney.  There are 1 or 2 skins from either Washpool or Dorrigo that are small 
and dark, not quite like lurida, rather like some of the things I saw at 
Paluma. This made me wonder whether lurida might be some sort of 'eco-type' 
rather than a subspecies. Convergent evolution is far more plausible, however. 
I meant to go looking for those NSW beasts, but I must have got side tracked.   
From: Murray Lord <>
To: ; 
Sent: Thursday, 5 May 2011 8:52 PM
Subject: Lurida

Jeff and David,

If the lurida subspecies does abut other forms without any significant 
introgression, then surely lurida deserves to be split under the biological 
species concept?

It’s an issue that’s interested me for a while.  When I was visiting Dave 
Stewart I asked him to play me his calls of lurida.  The only one he had (from 
Mt Lewis I think) did sound a little different, but that may well just have 
been the effect of the call having to travel through dense vegetation.  I 
wonder if anyone has looked into their calls?



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