Possible Tasmanian Morepork in Victoria

Subject: Possible Tasmanian Morepork in Victoria
From: Lawrie Conole <>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2013 16:01:45 +1000
Fantastic to see such nice clear photos of what looks very much like a
'leucopsis' boobook in Victoria. Too jarring for me to call it a morepork!
 Nice work Steve and Jenny.

Deep in the mists of time when I was a lad I saw birds like this in winter
in the wet forests around Mount Sabine and Mount Cowley up on the ridge
behind Lorne, Otway Ranges, SW Victoria (late 1970s - mid 1980s).  At the
time I regarded them as '*leucopsis*' from Tasmania (Conole 1985), but the
photographic gear in that era wasn't quite what it is now :-) ... and that
remained unconfirmed.

The Tasmanian boobook was described as *Athene leucopsis* by Gould (1838).
Mees (1964) revived it as a subspecies of *N. novaeseelandiae* (which then
also included *N. n. boobook*).

Mees also had this to say regarding its movements:

"... This subspecies is apparently a regular migrant to the mainland; not
uncommon in Victoria, but rare in New South Wales. The only authentic
specimen from New South Wales I have seen is a male collected in August
1903 in scrub at Long Reef, Manly, by S. W. Jackson. On its label further
appear the notes: "this is the 3rd bird only of this species obtained in
S. Wales (rare bird in N.S.W.) " (written by Bassett-Hull), and "May 1916.
This skin was forwarded to Mr . A. F. Bassett-Hull in Sydney, who compared
it with skins in the Australian Museum Collection and found it to
be Ninox maculata" (written by White or Jackson). Ramsay (1890, 1898)
listed several other specimens from New South Wales: Sydney, Petersham
and off Gabo Island; I have not examined these skins which are presumably
still in the Australian Museum collection.
The dates of specimens collected in Victoria are from 18th April to 12th
October, which is consistent with their being winter visitors only. A
caught at sea 50 miles off the Hunters, in May 1906, on which I have
commented earlier (Mees, 1961, p. 105) forms a confirmation of the
migratory habits of this race; this specimen had previously been mentioned
by Littler (1910). On the other hand at least part (the major part?) of
the population seems to stay in Tasmania, as I have examined specimens
collected in mid-winter at Railton (June 21 and 28) and Dulverton near
Railton (July 17) ...".

Mees wrote in 1966 "... The movements and winter range of leucopsis would
be a rewarding subject to investigate ...".  Indeed.


Conole,  L.E.  (1985).  The distribution and status of owls (Aves; Strigidae
and Tytonidae) in the Geelong-­Otway district, Victoria. *Geelong Naturalist
* *22*: 3-17.

Gould, J.  (1838). Van Diemen's Land, *Proc .  Zool .  Soc.   Lond .*    5,
   (1837),   p.   99.

Mees, GF (1964). A revision of the Australian owls (Strigidae and
Tytonidae). Zoologische Verhandelingen 65, 1-62.

Lawrie Conole
54 High Street
Kyneton 3444

03 5417 2245

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