Land for Wildlife people get it. In my experience they learn so much simply by observing the rich tapestry of Mother Nature. I call my place ‘A university without the sandstone’ and I research and follow up to learn more.

I drive a bit, and I listen to Radio National whilst doing this (who said men can’t multi task!). Recently they had a guy from the United States talking about the variety of bird alarm calls. Birds have different pitches for alarm calls that say, for example, raptor flying, raptor perching, snake on ground and snake in the tree.

On my weekly trip to Bribie Island to visit my Mum, I stopped in a bit of bushland on the way back. The birds were going off. Not just the mickeys (Noisy Miners) but also the butcherbirds and even a magpie. Mickeys, I reckon, are unreliable indicators of a true ‘alarm’ as they carry on about anything, but the combination of birds in alarm mode got me interested. I went back to the car, retrieved my camera and went looking. I expected to find a carpet python, the usual cause of such a commotion, particularly at midday.

A lot of looking was required until I finally saw the culprits. There perched in midcanopy were two owls. I was looking, but they were looking too – straight at me! Initially I thought, and hoped, they might be juvenile Powerful Owls. I took some photos (see image to the right) and went home and started researching. My research included me asking trusted colleagues including our local bird expert. It turns out that they were a pair of juvenile Southern Boobooks.

An adult Southern Boobook taking shelter in the carport on a Land for Wildlife property at Greenbank.

The Southern Boobook is the smallest and most common owl in Australia. It is commonly known as a ‘Mopoke’ as its distinctive call sounds like ‘boo-book’ or ‘mo-poke’. I hear them regularly, but don’t see them often. Southern Boobooks feed on insects, small mammals, moths and even small bats.

You can hear their call, and all other owl calls, via www.owlpages.com/sounds.php. Scroll through the pages until you get to Southern Boobook Owl (Ninox boobook), which should correctly be Ninox novaeseelandiae, which is Latin for the owl of New Zealand.

Technically, there are four subspecies of the Southern Boobook – one here in Australia, one in New Zealand and two extinct ones, on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Enjoy looking, listening, observing and researching your own Land for Wildlife property – you never know what you might find.

 

Phil Moran
Land for Wildlife member
Cooran, Sunshine Coast
Manager, Noosa and
Districts Landcare

 

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