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Barking Owl

Learn About The Barking Owl


Scientific Name: Ninox connivens


What do they look like?

The Barking Owl is a medium-sized (35 to 45 cm) hawk-owl. Adult Barking Owls are grey-brown above, with white spots on the wings, whitish below, and heavily streaked with grey-brown. The head is almost entirely grey-brown, and the eyes are large and yellow.


Where do they live?

Barking Owls are most common in savannah woodland, although they also inhabit well-forested hill and riverside woodlands. They are widely distributed throughout Australia, although are absent from central areas. They have a distinct preference to be close to water.


Barking Owls are more often heard than seen, which is typical of most nocturnal birds.


What do they eat?

The Barking Owl feeds on a variety of small to medium-sized mammals, such as, birds, reptiles and insects. Prey is located either from the air or from an exposed perch.


Most hunting is performed in the first few hours of the night and the last hours before dawn. Occasionally, birds may even be seen hunting in daylight. The Barking Owl prefers to hunt in clearings, including waterways and other open areas. Most prey appears to be taken on the ground or when perched.



Barking Owls have an extremely characteristic loud and remarkably dog-like double bark, sounding similiar to 'wuf wuf' or 'wuk wuk'.


A dog-like snarling is used in aggression by both sexes near the nest. Barking Owls are also notorious for their "screaming woman" call, best described as a scream of terrifying intensity, which sounds remarkably life like. This is not a common call and more likely to be used outside the breeding season. Its significance is unknown.



Barking Owls breed from August to October each year. A single brood of two to three young is raised in a season. The nest site is an open hollow in a tree trunk, loosely lined with sticks and other wood debris.


The female incubates the eggs, while the male supplies the food. The young hatch after about one month and leave the nest after a further 40 to 50 days. Young Barking Owls remain dependent on their parents for several months, and will remain in the family group until a few months before the next breeding season.


Thanks to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Queensland, Australia for the information and for letting me snap this shot there.


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Taken on December 22, 2008