The Barking Owl (Ninox connivens) is a fascinating bird species known for its unique vocalisations. As its name suggests, this owl can produce a sound that resembles a dog’s bark. However, it can also make a sound similar to a crying woman, making it one of the most vocal owl species in the world.
Appearance-wise, the Barking Owl is a medium-sized bird with a heart-shaped face and grey-brown feathers. Its eyes are large and yellow, providing excellent night vision for its nocturnal lifestyle. They have a wingspan of approximately 80-100 cm, making them agile hunters.
While they are primarily nocturnal, these owls may also hunt during the day, especially during the breeding season. They feed on a variety of prey, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Their hunting techniques involve silent flight and surprise attacks, using their sharp talons to catch their prey.
In Australia, the Barking Owl is considered a significant species by indigenous communities, often associated with spiritual beliefs and Dreamtime stories. Unfortunately, their populations have declined in recent years due to habitat loss and fragmentation, making them a vulnerable species.
Barking Owl Habitat
These owls are typically found in woodlands and forests across Australia, particularly in areas with eucalypt species like red gum or paperback species in the tropics. They prefer habitats with large, mature trees that provide ample nesting opportunities, such as tree hollows.
Barking Owl Distribution
There are two subspecies of this nocturnal owl: one occurring in south-eastern and south-western Australia and another living in northern Western Australia, far north Queensland and Northern Territory.
Barking Owl does not live in the central part of Australia.
Is Barking Owl endangered?
Presently this bird is listed as vulnerable in New South Wales and endangered in Victoria.
The population of Barking Owls has declined in recent years due to habitat loss and fragmentation, which has resulted in a reduction of their available nesting sites and prey. Additionally, these owls are sometimes hit by cars while hunting along roadsides, which can cause injury or death.
Efforts are being made to protect and conserve this owl populations, including habitat restoration and the installation of artificial nesting boxes. It is important to continue monitoring their populations and habitats to ensure their long-term survival.
Barking Owl Lifespan
They can live for up to 20 years.
We did not have a chance to spot a Barking Owl in the wild, but we heard their special, distinctive voice in Daintree NP.
Where spotted: Daintree National Park, QLD