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13

Rufous Owl

(Ninox rufa)
Alternate name(s): "Rufous Boobook"
Size: 45-55 cm
Weight: 0.7-1.7 kg

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Rufous Owl at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "rufa"

ADULT

MALE

Frontal view of a Rufous Owl; this bird is taller than the partner it was seen with
(photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, December 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a male Rufous Owl (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, December 2018]

FEMALE

Frontal view of a Rufous Owl with its prey, a possum; this bird was smaller than the partner it was seen with
(photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, December 2018]

PAIR

Frontal view of a pair of Rufous Owls taking an interest in the photographer - the male, on the left, is slightly smaller than the female; these are the birds whose calls were recorded on 15 April 2020 (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, April 2020]

Below a sound recording of the alarms of other bird species caused by the pair of Rufous Owls shown above.

alarm_pb_20200411.m4a (Darwin, NT) Alarm calls
(various species)
© PB

Frontal/ventral view of a pair of Rufous Owls (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, May 2018]

Dorsal view of a pair of Rufous Owls (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, May 2018]

Dorsal view of a pair of Rufous Owls; note how they look grey, rather than rufous, when deep in shade
(photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, May 2018]

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a Rufous Owl (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, July 2018]

Near-lateral/ventral view of a Rufous Owl (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, April 2020]

Close-up frontal view of a Rufous Owl in captivity (photo courtesy of J. Thurmer)

Frontal view of a Rufous Owl in captivity now with its head turned (photo courtesy of J. Thurmer)

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Adult Rufous Owl with a juvenile (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, October 2018]

Frontal view of a juvenile Rufous Owl (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, October 2018]

Lateral view of a juvenile Rufous Owl (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, October 2018]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Rufous Owl (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Botanical Garden, Darwin, NT, November 2018]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jun - Aug Eggs: 1 - 2 Incubation period: 36 - 38 days Fledging age: 35 - 42 days

The breeding season listed above is for the northern tropics. Further south, in eastern QLD, the breeding season is from August to December.

Nest building: Male Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tree hollow Material: No lining Height above ground: 3.5 - ? m

Three-pronged major fork with a hollow in the main trunk that was explored by a pair of Rufous Owls for its suitability for nesting; at about 2 m above ground, this hollow is unusually low, but there may have been a lack of suitable trees after tropical storms and bushfires wrought havoc in the area (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, May 2020]

Overview of the surroundings of the same tree as shown above (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, May 2020]

Wider overview of the tree itself (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, May 2020]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 53 x 45 mm Colour: White Shape: Tapered oval

Food, Diet

Frontal view of a female Rufous Owl with its prey, a flying fox (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, April 2020]

Near-lateral view of a female Rufous Owl with its prey, a flying fox (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, April 2020]

Lateral view of a female Rufous Owl with its prey, a possum (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, December 2018]

Scats and an abandoned Rufous Owl meal of flying fox below a roost (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Sewage Treatment Plant, Katherine, NT, July 2020]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

rufowl_pb_20200415.m4a rufa
(Darwin, NT)
Territorial calls © PB
rufowl_pb_20200415_2.m4a rufa
(Darwin, NT)
Territorial calls © PB
rufowl_pb_20200415_3.m4a rufa
(Darwin, NT)
Territorial calls, plus surroundings © PB

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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