The Owl Pages

Christmas Boobook ~ Ninox natalis


The Christmas Boobook is a small to medium-sized owl with no ear-tufts. It is also known as the Christmas Island Hawk Owl.

Photo Gallery (5 pictures)

  • Christmas Boobook
  • Christmas Boobook
  • Christmas Boobook
  • Christmas Boobook
  • Christmas Boobook

Sound Gallery

Typical call - Christmas Island. March 2015. © Richard Jackson.
Barking call - Christmas Island. 1995. © Richard Hill.


Description: Resembles a small, red-brown Boobook. 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 Australian Boobook, being two hoots, the second being slightly lower in pitch. This call is often repeated many times in just a few minutes. A low "ow-ow-ow" call like the distant barking of a dog is also described. 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 Boobook 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: Restricted to Christmas Island, a 135 square kilometre Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, 360 kilometres south of Java.

Range of Christmas Boobook (Ninox natalis)
Range of the Christmas Boobook Ninox natalis

Status: Listed as Vulnerable by Birdlife International.

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.

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

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

Page by Deane Lewis. Last updated 2020-11-07. Copyright Information.