IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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The rare Sooty Owl hunts prey from the highest points in the rainforests. They are known from some of the tallest and wettest regions along the east coast of Australia, New South Wales, and the rainforests of New Guinea (Newton et al., 2002; Birdlife International, 2012). Since the Sooty Owl has a limited habitat their diet depends on the availability of prey. Sooty Owls are capable of consuming virtually any arboreal or terrestrial mammal species between 10 and 1500 g, ranging from 2-100% of their body weight (Newton et al., 2002; Bilney et al., 2010). Male Sooty Owls weigh around 650 g and females average 1170 g (Newton et al., 2002). This is a significant feature of this species, because in most other species male owls are larger than females. Sooty Owls are named for their sooty brownish-black bodies. Their legs vary from brown to brownish black. Their facial features are greyish-brown with a darker rim around their facial disc. Both the upper body and the legs are flecked with small white spots. Sooty Owls also have huge eyes and a whitish beak. They have a large head, gangly legs with large feet, and short tail (Duncan, 2003). Sooty Owls prefer to nest in rainforests, sheltering on rocky gorges, cliffs, and in hallow trees. Many owls are known to breed in the winter, but Sooty Owls breed in the spring and generally lay two eggs. Usually only one egg hatches. The young will stay in the nest for a little over ten months before fledging.


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