Southern Boobook

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Southern Boobook, Ninox novaeseelandiae, Size 25-35cm. Has dark brown ‘goggle-like’ rims around grey/green eyes and a masked face. Grey/brown plumage spotted white, the breast has spotted vertical barring, and legs are fully feathered. They live in pairs, and roost during daytime in dense tree foliage, their presence often given away by mobbing by other birds. The common name ‘mopoke’ closely resembles their repetitive call.

Feeding Habits

Usually feeds the first two hours after dusk and again shortly before sunrise. Small birds and mammals, night moths and beetles are their main food.


The male constructs a nest in a deep hollow in a dead or living tree, making a bed of wood chips, leaves and small twigs. Two-to-four eggs are incubated by the female while the male brings her food. The young are reared by both adults.

Places to Look

  • Open country with stands of trees
  • Timbered watercourses
  • Towns and suburbs with abundant trees

More often heard than seen.

Traditional Owners

The Southern Boobook is known as the Mook Mook and provides a cultural sign for families. When the Southern Boobook sings out various sounds it can provide a warning to family members. A short pitch will signal to family that 'spirits' are near and a long pitch will notify that there will be a death in the family.


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.

Southern Boobook © Birdlife Townsville 2008

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