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27 Nov 2018

Get to know the baby Powerful Owl in the Parklands

Centennial Park has been blessed with a brand-new arrival – a Powerful Owl chick. Read on to learn more about this elusive Australian bird and how Centennial Parklands helps to protect it.

Powerful Owls are the largest owls in Australia. They can grow up to 65 cm in length, with a wingspan of up to 140 cm. Other than their size, their most prominent feature is their intense golden-eyed stare which stands out against their dark-grey mottled feathers.

These impressive owls are powerful predators, who spends the day sleeping above Park visitors enjoying their coffee and cake, and hunting small animals at night with their sharp talons (although they are reported to have grabbed animals as large as possums!).

Powerful Owls are generally found between the Great Dividing Range and the coast, from southern Queensland to south-eastern Australia. The preferred habitat is heavily forested with many old-growth trees, but urban populations are also found in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Centennial Park Owls

Powerful Owls were reported in Centennial Park in May 2014. Initially three owls were being seen, but as a pair became established the solitary owl moved on. We now have a regular breeding pair found in the Parklands. The Parklands Birding Volunteers work closely with the Birdlife Powerful Owl Project in Sydney, and the Park’s Environment and Scientific Units in gathering data on breeding and behaviour.

The Centennial Park owls are a valuable resource for studying how these birds can adapt to a life in the urban environment. Powerful Owls are territorial, with males excluding other males from their territory, which is why we only continue to see one pair in the Park.

The owls have very specific needs in nesting, which requires a large tree hollow, which limits their options in Centennial Park; despite growing 10,000 trees there are few that contain large hollows. The Hollows as Homes project, which works with the community and land managers to assess tree hollow availability, are vital resources to species such as the Powerful Owl.

Where to find the owls

Birding volunteers keep the park reception and information kiosk informed about the roosting sites being used from day to day, but as wild creatures, the owls do not always make it easy to be found.

When not breeding the owls can usually be found in trees near Banksia Way and the Park depot.

Learn more about the brand new baby here.

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