Southern Boobook Owl

Southern Boobook Owl, Murray Bridge

Southern Boobook Owl, Murray Bridge

Just as we were heading off to bed last night we heard a Southern Boobook Owl calling. It was calling persistently, even when I went up close to it with a torch. I raced back inside for the camera and managed two reasonable photos before it silently flew off again.

This owl species is wide spread throughout Australia where suitable habitat exists. Its call is familiar to many people but the bird is not as often seen. It has been quite a while since we last had one calling in our garden.

Other nocturnal species I have recorded in our garden over the years include:

  • Barn Owl
  • Australian Owlet-nightjar
  • Spotted Nightjar
  • Tawny Frogmouth
Southern Boobook Owl, Murray Bridge

Southern Boobook Owl, Murray Bridge

Southern Boobook owl

Southern Boobook owl, Adelaide Zoo, South Australia

Barking owl, Adelaide Zoo, South Australia

I was working late at my computer tonight when I heard a sound outside. I raced out, torch in hand. Sure enough – I heard a Southern Boobook owl calling. I tried to follow the sound but after walking across our five acre block of land it was still no closer.

I expect it was at least a kilometre away because the night was very still and sounds travels a long way on evenings like this. Still, it is a significant recording. On checking my bird database on my computer it is over 22 years since I last recorded this species here at home. That’s exciting.

The Southern Boobook  is  found over a large part of Australia and is our smallest owl. It is also called a Mopoke because of its call. It feeds on small mammals such as mice, insects, bats and  moths. It is almost entirely nocturnal but is sometimes seen out hunting on dull, cloudy days.

As yet I do not have a photo of this species taken in the wild. Instead I have a photo of a Powerful Owl taken through the wire of an aviary at the Adelaide Zoo.

You can read more about this owl on the Birds in Backyards site here.

You can read more about my encounters with owls, frogmouths and nightjars here.

Australian Owlet-nightjar

Australian Owlet-nightjar

Australian Owlet-nightjar

During recent evenings there have been times when our house and garden are undisturbed by noise. No television and no noisy neighbours – the nearest are about 60 metres from our house. During these times we are aware of the wildlife in our garden – if they call. Last week it was a Brush-tailed Possum – I’ll write about that soon.

Tonight and last night we heard an Australian Owlet-nightjar calling briefly – not long enough to get a torch and track it down. Being nocturnal it had come out of its hiding place to feed. The photo above was taken a few years ago now. It shows “our” nightjar sunning itself in the entrance of its roosting hollow. You don’t often get a chance to see this species in broad daylight.

The Australian Owlet-nightjar looks like a miniature owl. It is only 20 – 24 cm long. It can be found all over Australia but is more often heard than seen.

Is it a bird? Is it a… possum?

A few nights ago we were sitting in our lounge room reading. The sliding door leading out to the back veranda and back yard was open because it was a pleasant evening. Our attention was suddenly attracted by a loud hissing from nearby outside.

I immediately thought it might be a nocturnal bird, something like an owl for example. I grabbed the torch and within a minute had located the source of the noise. Two Brush-tailed Possums were in a tree near the house having a territory demarcation dispute, hence the loud hissing.

I raced inside for my camera and clicked off half a dozen shots before they disappeared out of range up separate trees. I was very disappointed that the photos were very blurry. I need more practice taking photos at night, I think. This is the best of them:

Out of focus photo of a Brush-tailed Possum in our garden

Out of focus photo of a Brush-tailed Possum in our garden

You can see a much better photo of a Brush-tailed Possum here.

I nearly hit a Barn Owl

Every Friday night I have a small job to do. I used to be a relief driver for a local courier company until my back told me I’d better quit. I’m still on the payroll, however, doing a small but light delivery job every Friday night. Truth is, none of the regular drivers wants to do a Friday night job. This simple delivery involves taking some newspapers and several light boxes to  nearby town, leaving at about 9:30pm. Not much good for seeing any birds.

Except nocturnal birds.

A few weeks ago I had just pulled out of our driveway when a Barn Owl swooped down from a nearby tree, snatched something from the road surface and then flew off with its supper, probably a mouse.  If I had been going at speed it would have become another road kill. I was just only beginning to accelerate, so I didn’t hit it.

Barn Owls are common and widespread throughout South Australia but one usually only gets to see one in the car  headlights as it crosses a road at night, or being mobbed by smaller birds while roosting in a tree.

Sadly, I don’t yet have a photo of this species. UPDATE: I forgot that do have several photos – see one below.

Post updated on July 12th 2015.


Barn Owl, Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney