Powerful Owls in Sydney

To: "kbrandwood" <>, "birdingaus" <>
Subject: Powerful Owls in Sydney
From: "michael norris" <>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 18:19:54 +1100
Hi Keith

The Flying-fox hypothesis sounds good but again Australian Field Ornithology, in the issue following the one with the evidence that POs are really increasing in suburban Sydney, has a possible response.

In Vol 22.2 (June 2005) there is an article on the "Diet of a Powerful Owl Roosting in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Central Melbourne" by Peter Menkhorst, Rex Buckingham and Richard Loyn.

For 6 months in 1989/90 Rex Buckingham collected pellets (at least 73) from under the owl's roost. His widow (Rex passed away in 1999) gave them to PM for analysis.

Of the total 91 prey items that were identified (by Barbara Triggs) only one was a Flying-fox! This was despite there being up to 20,000 present in the RBG camp in the 1980s. By contrast rats constituted 31% of items and possums 52%.

The article cites studies by Kavanagh of 47 sites in southeastern Australia which included one where flying-foxes were 77% of prey items, and one at Gordon in Sydney having flying-fox remains in 26% of samples. Further his research, and that by Pavey, apparently shows that there is no link between the presence of flying-foxes and of POs.

The conclusion is that POs are adaptable and may not prefer Flying-foxes in their diet.
Michael Norris

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