Powerful Owls and Hazard Reductions

To: "Alan Morris" <>, <>
Subject: Powerful Owls and Hazard Reductions
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 20:01:42 +1000
Hello Alan,

Another addition to the list of small mammals that require regular fire to reduce undergrowth is the Common Dunnart. I conducted a little study near Killingworth in the mid 1990's and found the dunnarts to be very common within the first couple of years after fire. Over about a six month period however, I noted a change with dunnart numbers dropping off and rats and Brown Antechinus moving in as the understorey thickened up.

Whether you call it hazard reduction or not, I think the important requirement is for variety and habitat patchiness. However you manage land- it will help some species and hinder others.


Mick Todd
Griffith, NSW

At 06:17 PM 23/09/01 +1000, Alan Morris wrote:
Hi Birders,
I found Reg Clarke's summary of the change in diet of the Powerful Owl following a hazard reduction most interesting but also noted his questioning of the rationanlity of having a hazard reduction. This reminds me that following a bushfire in Wyrrabalong National Park in 1993 ( an area having a large Ringtail population), the formerly rarely recorded New Holland Mouse Pseudomys novaehollandiae, became very common from 1 year to 3 years after the fire on the coastal heaths of Wyrrabalong, but gradually the numbers fell away once the heath and coastal forest gradually regained its usual height.

Similarly following a bushfire in Cockle Bay Nature Reserve in 1992, the virtually locally unknown and Threatened, Eastern Chestnut Mouse Meloyms sp. was readily found in this coastal swamp forest. Again as the period since the last fire continues to extend, I am sure that the vegetation at Cockle Bay is probably now once again unsuitable for that large mouse. However I would like to think that the Barn Owls at Wyyrabalong and the Masked Owls near Cockale Bay benifitted from those fires! Properly managed Hazard Reductions have an important role to play in nature conservation and there is evidence to show that most of our wildlife is able to adapt to hazard reductions and wildfires. What may have been to the disadvanage to the Powerful owl, may have been to the advantage of other birds. Obviously when the Powerful Owls at Turramurra turned to eating Pied Currawongs & Rainbow Lorikeets, the latter two species were not greatly missed.

Alan Morris

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