Christmas Island hawk-owl
Christmas Island hawk-owl. Photo: Christmas Island Tourism Association
Also known as the Christmas boobook, this small owl measures less than 30 cm. It has bright yellow eyes, tawny orange plumage above and barred orange and white plumage below.
Found only on Christmas Island, the hawk-owl is one of Australia’s rarest raptors. It is listed as vulnerable and scientists believe there are only about 1200 birds left.
Christmas Island hawk-owls live in all of the island’s forest types but prefer dense rainforests on the forest and coastal terraces. They nest in tree hollows and are thought to breed once a year. They are territorial birds, with an average territory size of 18 hectares.
Hawk-owls hunt at night, swooping down from their perch to grab insects, small reptiles and the occasional bird.
Where to see them
These nocturnal owls are hard to spot in the rainforest, but you can sometimes see them chasing insects around streetlights or waiting patiently beside the road for prey.