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Species Guide

New Britain Boobook

Ninox odiosa

The New Britain boobook, also known as the spangled boobook, New Britain hawk-owl, or russet hawk-owl, is a diminutive owl species, measuring approximately 22 cm (9 in) in length. It boasts a finely spotted chocolate-brown plumage, with striking golden eyes and prominent white eyebrows. The facial disk is a rich brown, and the upper breast features a broad brown band with buff or white barrings. The underparts are intricately spotted with brown, creating a rather splendid appearance.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the New Britain boobook, look for its small stature and the distinctive wide brown band across the upper breast. The golden eyes and white eyebrows are also key features that help distinguish it from other species. The dense brown spotting on the underparts is another characteristic to note.


This owl prefers the lowlands and hills within the New Britain and New Ireland endemic bird areas. It thrives at elevations up to 1,200 meters above sea level, where it can be found roosting during the daylight hours in the middle to upper strata of the forest canopy.


Endemic to New Britain, the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea, the New Britain boobook is fairly common within its limited range.


The New Britain boobook is a nocturnal creature, often seen roosting alone or in pairs during the day. At night, it becomes active, hunting for its prey.

Song & Calls

The call of this species is a captivating series of rapidly repeated "whoo" sounds. It starts at a low pitch and gradually rises, becoming faster and louder, a true nocturnal symphony.

Diet and Feeding

This owl primarily feeds on insects and small mammals, which it hunts during the night.

Conservation Status

The New Britain boobook was once considered a species of least concern. However, due to habitat degradation from logging and the conversion of forests to oil palm plantations, its numbers have been reassessed. It is now believed that there are between 10,000 to 20,000 individuals remaining, leading to its reclassification as "Vulnerable" by the IUCN in 2008. The total range of this species is less than 30,000 km², underscoring the importance of conservation efforts to protect its dwindling habitat.

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