The Owl Pages

Northern Boobook ~ Ninox japonica


The Northern Boobook is a dark brown, medium sized hawk-like owl with a round head and no ear-tufts. It was formerly considered a subspecies of the Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata.

Photo Gallery (2 pictures)

  • Northern Boobook
  • Northern Boobook


Voice: A pleasant, almost musical song that is not loud, but carries far. Two or Three short, mellow, hollow woop notes at the same pitch with an audible gap between the notes. These couplets, or triplets, are uttered in a series with pauses of 0.3 to 0.9 seconds between them. Other vocalisations described include a sharp, nasal, shrill heeoo, a quiet rolling, protracted kerrrr similar to a cat purring, and a cat-like meew.

Breeding: Breeding season is the end of May-June in Japan.

Habitat: Inhabits forest and woodland up to 1700m elevation.
In Japan, this owl occurs particularly in broadleaved deciduous and broadleaved evergreen woodland, mixed with conifer plantations, and tends to frequent forest edges. Brown Hawk Owls are also associated with human habitations and may even breed in urban areas that contain well-wooded areas with tall trees.

Distribution: The Northern Boobook is found in eastern Russia, North Korea, South Korea, northern and central China, Taiwan and Japan. One subspecies is migratory, and spends the non-breeding season in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Range of Northern Boobook (Ninox japonica)
Range of the Northern Boobook Ninox japonica

Status: Fairly common. Listed as 'Least Concern' by Birdlife International.

Original Description: Temminck & Schlegel, 1844.

References: (may contain affiliate links)
BirdLife International. 2020. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". IUCN.
International Ornithological Congress. 2023. "IOC World Bird List - Owls".
Ninox japonica at Xeno-canto.

See also: Other owls from Asia, Genus: Ninox.

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2023-08-30. Copyright Information.