Boobooks in Australia

To: <>
Subject: Boobooks in Australia
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 21:58:41 +1100
I agree. That a species will respond to a call of another species (or
subspecies) is not a criterion (or even a diagnostic criterion among other
criteria) which demonstrates them being a single species. There are many of
examples of species that respond to sounds of other species and for all
kinds of reasons and often very different types of animals. Notable
exceptions are that most species when being mimicked do not respond to the
calls of regular mimics (lyrebirds etc). In contrast a Red Wattlebird may
respond to playback of calls of a Regent Honeyeater mimicking a Red


-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Lloyd Nielsen
Sent: Wednesday, 19 December 2012 5:42 PM
Subject: Boobooks in Australia

John Penhallurick wrote:

"This was one of the most ridiculous splits in Koenig and Weick's 2nd edn of
the Owls of the World.  The race lurida responds readily to vocalisations of
Southern Boobook." 

John, I think everyone of us who lives in the Wet Tropics and knows both 
Boobooks well would completely disagree with that statement. They were 
split many years ago ("Red Boobook Owl" was listed as a species in the 
RAOU 1926 Checklist as it was in the old Cayley's What Bird is That?) 
and then ridiculously lumped, I think by G.F. Mees in the 1960s? In the 
wild, they are VERY different birds (species) - one a small, pint-sized 
rainforest bird - the other a larger open forest bird. Often, all that 
separates them physically is the edge of the rainforest - and there 
appears to be no hybridisation - at least none that we can find.

In their own habitats, you can also fairly easily pick a difference in 
the voice. And more importantly they have different habits as well as 
different appearances. The noticeable thing when one first sees lurida 
is its tiny size, its lack of "goggles", the spotting, the greenish eye 
colour. Go outside the rainforest and you will, if you are lucky, find a 
normal sized boobook with "goggles", heavy striations (ocellata) on the 
underparts, different eye colour and so on. These open forest races 
(ocellata and boobook) are mostly rather rare in the areas surrounding 
the Wet Tropics rainforest - lurida is fairly plentiful within it.

I cannot see that because lurida will respond to a call of other 
boobooks, that this is criteria which supports them being a single 
species. How would one know that a responding lurida is not challenging 
a bird/species it regards as an intruder or competitor? I once played 
the call of a Red Goshawk on the Mitchell River in north Queensland in 
several different spots along the river. Though I never got a Red 
Goshawk to respond, I got quite a few Pied Currawongs at each spot to 
come bolting in and respond - very aggressively. This is an extreme 
example I know but it can happen.

Having guided (birding groups/tours) for almost 20 years from the 1980s 
until the early 2000s, I found a number of species will respond to the 
call of another species for different reasons - Large-billed to Mangrove 
Gerygone readily comes to mind, Leaden and Satin Flycatchers etc. At 
times, I have played calls of fairy-wrens, or honeyeaters etc and have a 
butcherbird respond (seeing them as prey). And so on.

In summary, lurida deserves species ranking without delay.

Lloyd Nielsen,
Mt Molloy, (Wet Tropics), Nth Qld



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