Family Typical Owls (Strigidae)

Least Concern

Brown Boobook (Ninox scutulata)


French: Ninoxe hirsute German: Falkenkauz Spanish: Nínox pardo
Other common names: Brown Hawk-owl

Strix scutulata


, 1822,



Until recently, considered to include N. japonica, N. randi and N. obscura. Differs from japonica and randi in vocal characters and in part also mensurally#R; vocalizations similar to those of obscura, which differs from present species in its reduced white spot above bill (ns[1]); plain dark brown uppersides and underparts (4); barred, not plain, undertail-coverts (2); unbarred undertail (2)#R. Name scutulata formerly applied to populations from E China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan (now N. japonica) on erroneous supposition that type specimen, from Sumatra, was migrant form; populations now recognized as nominate scutulata were placed in race malaccensis. Nicobar races isolata and rexpimenti (which sometimes synonymized with isolata) until recently included in N. affinis, but are in fact much closer to and almost indistinguishable from mainland N. scutulata#R. Several other forms doubtfully separable subspecifically; taxonomy in need of further revision. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. s. lugubris (Tickell, 1833) – N & C India to W Assam.
  • N. s. hirsuta (Temminck, 1824) – S India and Sri Lanka.
  • N. s. burmanica A. O. Hume, 1876 – E Assam to S China, S to N Malay Peninsula and Indochina.
  • N. s. isolata E. C. S. Baker, 1926 – Car Nicobar.
  • N. s. rexpimenti Abdulali, 1979 – Nicobar Is (Great Nicobar, Camorta, Trinkat).
  • N. s. palawanensis Ripley & Rabor, 1962 – Palawan (SW Philippines).
  • N. s. scutulata (Raffles, 1822) – S Malay Peninsula, Riau Archipelago, Sumatra and Bangka.
  • N. s. javanensis Stresemann, 1928 – W Java.
  • N. s. borneensis (Bonaparte, 1850) – Borneo and N Natuna Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    27–33 cm; 172–227 g (nominate race), 146–173 g (borneensis). Smallish to medium-sized (depending on race), somewhat hawk-like boobook with poorly... read more


    Song a repeated mellow, rising, disyllabic hoot, “whoo-wup, whoo-wup, whoo-wup” that is... read more


    Treed habitats from primary lowland rainforests and mangroves to wooded residential areas,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects such as beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), dragonflies (Odonata) and moths (Lepidoptera); also takes... read more


    Published information scarce. Laying and incubation occur from Mar–Apr in Sumatra, Mar–Jun or Jul in India. Nests in tree... read more


    Largely sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. No information on global numbers or population trends, but probably declining wherever lowland rainforests have been... read more

    Recommended citation

    Olsen, P.D., de Juana, E. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Brown Boobook (Ninox scutulata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 December 2019).