New Britain Boobook Ninox odiosa


Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Vulnerable because remote-sensing data indicate that there has been a dramatic loss of lowland forest across its range and that it is therefore likely to have suffered a rapid population decline. Fortunately, the rate of forest loss has slowed since about 2002.

Population justification
This species is widespread and relatively common for a small owl. The population is estimated to be in the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals in a single subpopulation.

Trend justification
Buchanan et al. (2008) calculated the rate of forest loss within the species's range on New Britain as 34% over three generations (30 years). Less detailed analysis is available for later years but about 2.2% of forest was lost plus 5.2% degraded across New Britain between 2002 and 2014 (Bryan and Shearman 2015). It is inferred that forest loss and degradation has slowed. The species is moderately tolerant of degraded habitat and its current and future rate of decline is precautionary estimated to be 10-19% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Ninox odiosa is endemic to the island of New Britain (Papua New Guinea) where although it is rather poorly known, it is widespread and relatively common in suitable habitat (Dutson 2011; Davis et al. in prep.).


It inhabits rainforest up to 1,200 m. It is thought to be moderately toleratant of habitat degradation (Dutson 2011, Davis et al. in prep.).


Lowland forest clearance on New Britain for conversion to oil palm plantations was intense in recent decades (Buchanan et al. 2008) but has slowed (Bryan and Shearman 2015). Extensive areas of forest have been logged (Buchanan et al. 2008) and logging continues at a slower but still significant rate (Bryan and Shearman 2015). The species is relatively tolerant of degraded forest (Dutson 2011, Davis et al. in prep.). Forest is also being slowly degraded and lost to subsistence gardens by the growing local population.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify and effectively protect a network of reserves, including some containing large areas of unlogged lowland forest, on New Britain. Continue to monitor trends in forest loss. Research its tolerance of degraded forest. Monitor populations in a number of primary forest and degraded forest sites across the island.


22cm. A small owl with fine spotted chocolate-brown upperparts. Underparts are paler mottled white and brown. Conspicuous white eyebrows and throat patch give distinctive facial appearance. Similar spp. Bismark Hawk-owl (N. variegata) is similar but larger and no obvious eyebrows. Voice: A rapidly repeated monosyllabic whoo, typically starting low then rising in pitch, becoming faster and louder.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Mahood, S., North, A., Derhé, M.

Wilkinson, R., Dutson, G., Bishop, K.D., Beehler, B.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Ninox odiosa. Downloaded from on 30/05/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/05/2020.