Southern Boobook Owl

Cold Night

Late last Saturday evening we were travelling back from visiting relatives in Jamestown in the mid-north of South Australia. It had been a lovely autumn day, clear sky, lovely sunshine and no wind. As soon as the sun set, the air had a sudden chill,  as if a frost was settling in for the night. We saw the full moon rising soon after sunset.

Night Driving Hazards

As we travelled past the pine forests south of Jamestown I was on the alert for kangaroos on the road. Nephew Steve had warned me before we left to be on the alert as he had killed four roos in recent years in that area. When travelling rural South Australia I am always on the lookout, usually for sheep that have strayed through fences on to the road. Kangaroos and, in some parts, wombats, are very dangerous hazards on our roads, especially at night.


Fortunately I had hit very few kangaroos, probably about five, in all my years of driving in Australia. I have never hit a sheep or cow and I never want to hit a wombat. It would be like hitting a rock, I’d imagine. I came close to one crossing the road one night near Swan Reach. Scary!


Now back to the bird sighting last Saturday night. At first I thought there was a rabbit sitting on the side of the road. As it flew off into the darkness I realised my mistake. At first I thought it was a Barn Owl, but the markings were all wrong; it was too dark. It had to be a Southern Boobook Owl, one of Australia’s most widespread and best known owls.

Its “boo-book” call is a familiar nocturnal sound throughout rural Australia. It is even heard in built up regions where suitable habitat exists. I have only heard it on one occasion near our home in Murray Bridge despite it being resident in the area. We have heard it far more often in Clare near my daughter’s  home. It is a species more often heard than seen.

Update: I’ve just recorded it for the second time in our garden. To  read about it click here. The article includes a photo. Posted on 4th May 2010


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