Raptor species include Falcons, Hawks, Eagles, Owls
Danger… These birds have really good beaks, but it is their tremendously strong talons (feet) that you must be careful of.
Several species of raptor are seen in Adelaide and environs. These fall into two groups, the nocturnal (night) birds and the diurnals (day) birds.
- Australian Kestrel
- Australian Hobby
- Black-shouldered Kite
- Collared Sparrow Hawk
- Brown Goshawk
- Wedge-tailed Eagle
- Whistling Kite
- Little Eagle
- Brown Falcon
- Spotted Harrier
- Marsh Harrier
- Barn Owl
- Southern Boobook
The Barn Owl is believed to be the most widespread land bird on Earth, occurring naturally on every continent except for Antarctica. The Australian sub species may be found in all parts of Australia except for the most arid desert environments. Barns owls have a short life expectancy in the wild of only 1-2 years.
Famous for its ghostly beauty and silent flight, the Australian Barn Owl, which is smaller in stature than its northern hemisphere cousins, are medium sized owls with a ‘heart-shaped’ facial disc. The facial disc acts to scoop sound towards the ears whilst searching for food. This is done by silently soaring low over grassy lands and fields looking for small mammals and other prey. The prey is located by sound before using both sight and sound to drop and make the kill. They have sandy orange and light grey upperparts and white to cream underparts. Both the back and breast are evenly spotted with black. Young birds are similar to adults in plumage but are generally more densely spotted.
Females are larger than males, with an average length of 34-40cm and weight of 570g. Males average 32-38cm in length and weight of 470g. However, unlike diurnal raptors the size factor for sexual dimorphism (difference in sexes) is minimal, making it difficult to be sure which sex the bird is.
The Southern Boobook is the smallest (28 – 36 cm) and most common owl in Australia. It is identified by its plumage, which is dark chocolate-brown above and rufous-brown below, heavily streaked and spotted with white. The bill is grey with a darker tip, and the feet are grey or yellow. The face is chocolate brown and the eyes are large and yellowish. Tasmanian birds are smaller and more heavily spotted with white, while birds of the Cape York rainforests are slightly larger and darker. Young Southern Boobooks are almost entirely buff-white below, with conspicuous dark brown facial discs.
Juveniles are distinguished from adults as having quite distinct white rings around their eyes (“spectacles”) and the iris is brownish.
Like other owl species, the Southern Boobook is nocturnal. Birds are often observed perched on an open branch or tree-top, emitting a distinctive ‘boo-book’ or ‘mo-poke’.
- Tawny Frog Mouths are nocturnal.
- They are not owls.
- They eat insects, frogs and small animals.
- They hide by staying still looking like a tree branch.
- The Tawny Frogmouth are often thought to be an owl, but are in fact related to nightjars.
- There are 14 species, or kinds, of frogmouth.
Habitat and Distribution
Frogmouths are commonly seen throughout Australia, but not in rainforests or deserts. Tawny frogmouths prefer open eucalyptus woodland.
Appearance and Behaviours
Frogmouths do not have strong talons (claws) like owls.
Males and females look alike, and are 35-50 cm long. They have yellow eyes and a wide beak topped with a tuft of bristly feathers. They make loud clacking sounds with their beaks and their call sounds like drumbeats.
Owls fly around at night hunting food, but Tawny Frogmouths generally remain sitting very still on a low perch, and wait for food to come to them. They catch prey with their beaks, and sometimes drop from their perch onto the prey on the ground.
Tawny frogmouths hunt at night and spend the day roosting on a dead log or tree branch close to the tree trunk.
Their camouflage is excellent – staying very still and upright, they look just like part of the branch.
Tawny frogmouth pairs stay together until one of the pair dies. They breed from August to December. They usually use the same nest each year, and must make repairs to their loose, untidy platforms of sticks. After mating with the male, the female lays two or three eggs
onto a lining of green leaves in the nest. Both male and female take turns sitting on the eggs to incubate them until they hatch about 30 days later. Both parents help feed the chicks. The chicks move to the edge of the nest and direct their droppings over the edge.
About 25 days after hatching, the chicks are ready to leave the nest and lead their own lives.