Powerful owl back in the Illawarra after a few years away

Here's looking at you, kid: A powerful owl fixes its gaze.

Here's looking at you, kid: A powerful owl fixes its gaze.

They’re back: our largest and most charismatic owl has returned.

After an absence of a few years the powerful owl is back in numbers in the Illawarra, and you may be hearing them making their presence felt, calling out in the night.

Even if you haven’t noticed this emperor of the night, if you live near the bush there’s a good chance it has noticed you from one of its sophisticated hides.

“Despite being our largest species of owl, powerful owls aren’t always easy to see,” said Dr Beth Mott, BirdLife Australia’s powerful owl project manager. 

“They often hide among the dense foliage, and they nest in large tree hollows, but once you’ve seen one, they’re hard to forget.” 

Nest in tree hollow

Nest in tree hollow

But the powerful owl is not invincible, and it listed as a vulnerable species as its numbers decline.

Dr Mott is conducting a “citizen science” project to look after these owls, and wants help from you if you have seen or heard a powerful owl.

“These owls are our largest and most charismatic owl, are an important top predator and are a vulnerable species,” Dr Mott said.

You talkin' to me: The powerful owl will be making its presence felt in this part of NSW - and even if you can't see them, they may be watching you.

You talkin' to me: The powerful owl will be making its presence felt in this part of NSW - and even if you can't see them, they may be watching you.

“They are currently back in the Illawarra after a bit of a break for the last few years.

“They are our biggest nocturnal bird and one that many people in the region will probably start to hear more of them at night, as they get noisy over the breeding season just starting.”

Powerful owl numbers are declining and it’s estimated that around Sydney, 10 per cent of the population is killed each year by cars. But their breeding success is improving.

“Sightings from the public can help us better understand how these magnificent birds are using the urban environment, and how we can keep them around.”

Dr Mott will give an information session on the powerful owl on Saturday, April 29, from noon-1pm at the Thirroul Community Centre.

These owls are our largest and most charismatic owl, are an important top predator and are a vulnerable species - Beth Mott

If you’ve seen a Powerful Owl lately, please contact Dr Mott at powerfulowl@birdlife.org.au or phone 9647 1875.

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