'Cave Dwelling' Masked Owl

Subject: 'Cave Dwelling' Masked Owl
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Sat, 17 Aug 2013 18:52:21 +1000
Hello Matthew,

Here are some interesting articles dealing with Masked Owls in the drier
parts of WA:

McAllan, I.A.W. (1997) More on early records of the 'Cave Owl' of the
Nullarbor Plain. Australian Bird Watcher 17(4), 198-202.

Hyem, E.L. (1932) Description of Eggs of the Cave Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae
troughtoni). Emu 32, 41.

Ford, J. (1968) Distribution of the Masked Owl in Western Australia.
Western Australian Naturalist 11(1), 21-22.

It does seem a little unlikely that they would be distinct but their
existence is interesting nonetheless. The fascinating thing to me is how
they survived. Presumably there was a far greater abundance and diversity
of small and medium sized mammals in the past.

As for the use of caves, masked owls are prone to using them elsewhere. On
the mainland I've collected pellets from a cave within the territory of
masked owls. Here in Tasmania, the masked owls regularly use caves. I'd
almost go so far as to say that if there are caves available they will use
them- sometimes often and for extended periods. Mostly for roosting- there
is only one record of them nesting in a cave at Broadmarsh from Michael
Sharland. The exact location of that cave is now unknown. I'm unaware of
any other nesting but many caves that I have seen are pretty inaccessible
and it would be a bit of a challenge to locate nests.

I'm planning to conduct a study on the pre-european diet of masked owls in
Tasmania using cave roosts- if I ever find the time!



Michael Todd,  PhD
Molesworth, Tasmania

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