Re: Barking Owls to be listed - Victoria & NSW (Aust.)

To: "Martin O'Brien"<>
Subject: Re: Barking Owls to be listed - Victoria & NSW (Aust.)
From: David James <>
Date: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 10:50:58 +1000
At 13:45 6/07/98 +1000, Martin wrote:
>I have heard the dog-like call in the northern Victorian plains and at
>first I was convinced a small dog was nearby, have any others recent
>experience of these amazing calls?


Barking Owl is a relatively common woodland Owl around Townsville. I heard
a pair duetting the "dog-like" bark on dusk in the riparian forest along
Stuart Creek (a local reveg site) on Saturday. This call is a double note
or nearly a tripple note "er-rook rook" or "r-rook rook" When they duet the
males usually lead and the females follow in a slightly higher pitch after
the males have finished their double note; the dueting increases in speed
and urgency as it proceeds and the females begin to overlap with males (as
if they get each other worked up), ending in a garble of barks. Every now
and then I've woken in the middle of the night to hear this in a tree over
the house. Fantastic!

I've encountered Barking Owls scores of times around Townsville and
elsewhere (as I'm sure have many birders in the north) but, apart from the
"dog-like" bark I have only ever once heard a different call: this was a
blood curtling scream. In my experience Barking Owls are not as diverse in
their vocalisations as the literature suggests, or at least calls other
than the bark are rarely given. Like Martin I'm interested to know if
anyone knows much about their other calls.

David Geering Wrote:
>What is likely to happen to these birds, and the many Little Eagles, when,
>and if, the rabbit numbers crash in this valley.  Their traditional small
>mammalian prey is long extinct.

Around Townsville, It appears that Barking Owls mainly eat insects
(especially beetles) and birds (like Rainbow Lorikeets, Magpie-larks, and
Tawny Frogmouths). A paper by Kavanagh et al. (1995) ("Diet and Habitat of
the Barking Owl Ninox connivens" in NSW". Aust Birdwatcher 16: 137-144) at
eight sites in NSW, lists insects, birds, juvenile rabbit, juvenile
brush-tailed possum, Sugar glider, micro-bats and black rats. At Glen Alice
they recorded  rabbits, black rats, starlings, parrots, passerine
egg-shell, and beetles.

If rabbits disappear (IF) it may not be all doom and gloom for Barking
Owls. Not that I am advocating complacency, high order preadators are in
trouble the world over, but Barking Owls may well face bigger threats from
habitat destruction (including tree-clearing, over-grazing and rabbit
damage) than from rabbit control.




David James
PO BOX 5225
Townsville Mail Centre 4810

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