Ninox albifacies rufifacies Buller, 1904:639

North Island whekau, Laughing owl (North Island), Laughing owl (generic)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Sceloglaux albifacies rufifacies Buller, 1904:639


Conservation Status

Last record: 1868/9; 1889 (BirdLife International, 2016); 1890 (Williams, 1962:18); 1930's (unconfirmed report) (BirdLife International, 2016)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


There were unconfirmed reports of this subspecies right up until the 1930's (BirdLife International, 2012; Blackburn, 1982).



North Island, New Zealand


Biology & Ecology




The holotype cannot be located (Worthy, 1997; Tennyson & Bartle, 2008).






Original scientific description:

Buller, W. L. (1904). On a new species of owl from New Zealand. Ibis 8(4): 639.


Other references:

BirdLife International. (2012). Sceloglaux albifacies. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. ( Downloaded on 14 October 2012.

BirdLife International. 2016. Sceloglaux albifacies. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22689496A93232295. Downloaded on 27 June 2021.

Blackburn, A. (1982). A 1927 record of the Laughing Owl. Notornis 29(1): 79.

Buller, W.L. (1872-1873). A history of the birds of New Zealand. London: John van Voorst. xxiii + 384 pp.

Fuller, Errol. (1988). Extinct Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 256 pp.

Gill, B. J. (1996). Geographical variation in the bone length of Laughing Owls (Sceloglaux albifacies). Notornis 43(2): 85-90.

Holdaway, Richard N., Worthy, Trevor H. and Tennyson, Alan J. D. (2001). A working list of breeding bird species of the New Zealand region at first human contact. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 28: 119-187.

Hudon, Daniel (writer) and Behin, Elahe (illustrator). (2014, April 6th). Brief Eulogies for Lost Species. Paragraphiti. Retrieved from [accessed 21 April, 2018]

König, C., Weick, F. and Becking, J. H. (1999). Owls – a guide to the owls of the world. Yale University Press. New Haven and London. 462 pp. [Google Preview]

Marples, B. K. (1946). List of the birds of New Zealand. Notornis 1(supp.): i-vii.

Millener, P. R. (1983). Tyto alba (Aves: Strigidae): a deletion from the New Zealand subfossil record. Notornis 30(1): 15-21.

Hugh Robertson, John Dowding, Graeme Elliott, Rod Hitchmough, Colin Miskelly, Colin O’Donnell, Ralph Powlesland, Paul Sagar, Paul Scofield, Graeme Taylor. (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 4. 22 pp.

Tennyson, Alan J. D. and Bartle, J. A. (2008). Catalogue of type specimens of birds in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Tuhinga 19: 185-207.

Weick, Friedhelm. (2006). Owls (Strigiformes): Annotated and Illustrated Checklist. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Williams, G. R. (1962). Extinction and the land and freshwater-inhabiting birds of New Zealand. Notornis 10(1): 15-32.

Wood, Jamie R. et al. (2016). Phylogenetic relationships and terrestrial adaptations of the extinct laughing owl, Sceloglaux albifacies (Aves: Strigidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12483 [Abstract]

Worthy, Trevor H. (1997). A survey of historical Laughing Owl (Sceloglaux albifacies) specimens in museum collections. Notornis 44(4): 241-252.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (2000). Terrestrial fossil vertebrate faunas from inland Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand. Part 1. Records of the Canterbury Museum 14: 89-154.


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