Australias Unexpected Apex Predator: The Powerful Owl

This weeks featured species is the powerful owl (Ninox strenua). This apex predator is found through-out the outskirts of Sydney and may be heard calling at dusk. During the onset of winter the male will hunt while the female incubates the eggs. The powerful owls main food source is the ring-tailed possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), but will also predate on the more robust brush-tail, and even occasionally takes flying foxes and birds. Powerful owls have large home ranges are are often difficult to located, however if you live in an area near a creek, with the main canopy tree being Angophora costata, it would be highly likely that you have a nesting hollow nearby.

 

Photo Copyright Lucy Kidson

Copyright Lucy Kidson (2014)

 

Things to look out for to detect a powerful owl are:

  • Splatters; big white splatters that look like yogurt indicate a powerful owl has defecated here and may indicate you are right underneath a potential roosting tree
  • Pellets; usually close to the splatters, these are small, thumb sized pieces of indigestible material which is coughed up by the bird. They usually contain fur and bones. These may also indicate the site of a roosting tree
  • Baby powerful owls; powerful owl chicks will be around usually in September and may be seen during the day

 

Copyright Chad Beranek (2014)

Copyright Chad Beranek (2014)

Copyright Chad Beranek (2014)

Copyright Chad Beranek (2014)

Copyright Chad Beranek (2014)

Copyright Chad Beranek (2014)

 

Being an apex predator, the powerful owl is naturally low in abundance. Combine this with urban development and it is no wonder the powerful owl has been listed as vulnerable in NSW. Fortunately there is recovery plans. To get involved with conservation of this spectacular bird, Bird in Backyards and Birdlife Australia are running a volunteer powerful owl project to try and find all the nesting sites in Sydney so they can be better conserved. This is a great opportunity for any naturalists,  environmental students, nature photographers and bird lovers in general.

Visit this website for more information: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/surveys/Powerful-Owl-Project