Re: Birding blooper

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Re: Birding blooper
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2007 15:12:58 +1100
Hi All,

A single Powerful Owl had been recorded roosting by day in bushland adjacent to a major construction project in the Ryde/Lane Cove area of Sydney. The edge of the construction envelope was only 40 m from where the owl had been recorded roosting so, quite understandably, some local residents were concerned that construction activities (which were 18 hrs/day) would disturb both roosting and foraging behaviours of this owl.

This led to me being contracted by the construction company to monitor the use of the bushland by this and other Powerful Owls on and off over a period of several months as partial means of addressing the concerns of the public. The Powerful Owl in question was a young male which appeared not to have a partner or be part of a family group during the period of investigation. It continued to use the same roost site nightly for the 1st month of surveys, after which it disappeared. Four more months of surveys went by without encountering the owl at its former roost site.

Eventually the time came for the construction company to begin its work. At this point I was asked to educate the construction workers about Powerful Owls (habitat requirements, general ecology, how to identify them by sight and sound, etc) as part of their worksite induction. Towards the end of the induction session I took the workers for a stroll through the bushland to show them where the owl had been roosting previously. On the way to this site I said to them confidentally "we will not see the bird because it has not been seen in that location for the last 4 months, but it is useful to see the area that should not be disturbed". Famous last words - within 2 minutes of uttering them we arrived at the site and there was the roosting Powerful Owl with a partially eaten possum in its talons! The construction workers were highly amused and I was a little red-faced. The timing of its return could not have been better timed!

Two years down the track and the construction project has just been completed. A single Powerful Owl (probably the same one) still uses that same roost site on and off. If it is the same bird, then it still doesn't seem to have a mate.

Dr Stephen Ambrose

Ryde, NSW


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