Northern Boobook

This species is defined as a Review Species . Please submit your records of this species via our record submission page .

Scientific Name: Ninox japonica

Malay Name: Pungguk Betemak Utara

Chinese Name: 北鹰鸮

Range: Breeding Range: (OR) Russian Far East to Korea, Japan; Taiwan

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: florensis, japonica, totogo.

Size: 30-31 cm

Identification: Similar to Brown Boobook. Overall brown colouration with large, yellow eyes and small, white patch above bill. Field identification from Brown Boobook is tricky with this bird possessing more elongated, teardrop-shaped streaking compared to the rounder, more heart-shaped streaks of the local subspecies of the Brown Boobook. This bird also possesses proportionally longer wings than the resident species, however, this is hard to make out in the field. 

Similar looking species: Brown Boobook

Habitat: While on migration will make use of any habitat with trees, including scrubland and other areas outside of the closed forests that characterise our central reserves. 

Behaviour/Ecology: Long-distance migrant from eastern Asia. Vocalisations are highly distinct from local Brown Boobook, but calls rarely in its wintering grounds. 

Local Status: Rare migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

Past records in our database:

Showing only accepted records. Note that records currently under review are also not displayed, and the list may not be a full list of records of this species in Singapore. For more details, check the database here.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Northern Boobook Ninox japonica
Average number of individuals by week based on Singapore Bird Database data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023 (all records)
Peak week Nov 05-Nov 11
Early date 25 Oct 2022
Late date 25 Apr 2020
Peak migration for this species occurs in the first half of Nov, although it's occasionally sighted outside of this period. Teardrop-shaped underpart markings, compared to heart-shaped markings in Brown Boobook, are the main identification feature.


BirdLife International. (2016). Ninox japonica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Jeyarajasingam, A., & Pearson, A. (2012). A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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