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Christmas Island Hawk Owl - Ninox natalis

Formerly a subspecies of Ninox squamipila

Calls - Ninox natalis
Typical calls Christmas Island. March 2015. © Richard Jackson
Barking call Christmas Island. © Richard Hill

[For help with terms used in the description, see parts of an owl. For general characteristics common to most owl species, see owl physiology.]

Description: Resembles a small, red-brown Boobook Owl. The breast is whitish and finely barred rufous, while the tail is dark brown with 10 rufous bands. Bill is yellowish-grey and the eyes are yellow.

Size: Length 26-29cm.  Wing length 178-183mm. Tail length about 127mm. Weight 130-200g.

Habits: Frequently heard in evening and night. Hides in dense thickets or densely foliaged trees in middle canopy during the day.

Voice: The main call is similar to the Boobook Owl, being two hoots, the second being slightly lower in pitch. This call is often repeated many times in just a few minutes. In 1888, Lister described a call as a low "ow-ow-ow" like the distant barking of a dog.
Other calls noted for these Owls include a shrill, trilling call given by begging young, and a Chirring given by the female requesting food from her mate during courtship and nesting. During courtship, the male gives a "Por Por" call when close to the female. The "Kar Kar" call is made by the male when delivering food to the female and nestlings.

Hunting & Food: The Christmas Island Hawk Owl eats mainly insects, usually by snatching them from foliage. They have also been observed hawking for insects around street lights. Other prey recorded include juvenile black rats, and small lizards and birds.

Breeding: Little Known. Breeding season seem to be prolonged, with records in all quarters of the year. Nests recorded have been in tree hollows. Chicks take about 68 to 77 days from hatching to fledging, and are dependent on their parents for at least 2.5 Months after that.

Habitat: They inhabit the tropical rainforest, monsoon forest and scrub of Christmas Island.

Distribution: The Christmas Island Hawk-Owl is restricted to Christmas Island, a 135 square kilometre (52 square mile) Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, 360 kilometres (223.6 miles) south of Java.

Distribution of Christmas Island Hawk Owl - Ninox natalis
Distribution of the Christmas Island Hawk Owl Ninox natalis

Status: Not under immediate threat.

Original Description: Lister, JJ. 1889. Proceedings of the Scientific Meetings of the Zoological Society of London for the Year 1888 (PZS): Pt. 4, p 525.


Hill, F.A. Richard & Lill, Alan. 1998. "Density and total population estimates for the threatened Christmas Island Hawk Owl Ninox natalis". EMU vol. 98, Part 3
Hill, F.A. Richard & Lill, Alan. 1998. "Vocalizations of the Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis: individual variation in advertisement calls". EMU vol. 98, Part 3
Hill, F.A. Richard & Lill, Alan. 1998. "Diet and roost site characteristics of the Christmas Island Hawk-Owl Ninox natalis". EMU vol. 98, Part 3
König, Claus & Weick, Friedhelm. 2008. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World (Second Edition)". Yale University Press
König, Weick and Becking. 1999. "Owls: A Guide to the Owls of the World". Yale University Press

Page Information:

Page compiled by . Page last updated 2015-04-05 Owl Species ID: 240.180.000

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