The next generation

In recent years I’ve been fortunate to observe a number of pairs of Barking Owls Ninox connivens in the Newstead district.

They are fascinating birds, less common than either of the other two Ninox owls that occur locally, the Powerful Owl and the Southern Boobook.

Borrowing from the notes of Chris Tzaros in his newly released book, Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country (2nd edition), Barking Owls …

Occur mostly in the eastern Box-Ironbark, especially around Chiltern-Wangaratta (one of the remaining strongholds of the species in south-eastern Australia). Isolated occurrences further west through the north central region, west to around Dunolly. Box-Ironbark population estimated at around 25 breeding pairs; recent evidence suggests ongoing decline … Strongly favour forest edges … along creek lines surrounded by open woodland.

Nocturnal and often crepuscular. During day, roosts among foliage of eucalypts, often Red Box, Long-leaf Box or White Box, or dense wattles … Often hunts at dusk while still light. When breeding, mainly hunts birds, such as magpies, rosellas and choughs, and small mammals, such as rabbits, gliders and bats; takes mostly large insects when not breeding … Calls often at dusk and dawn; distinctive dog-like bark, wook-wook, and occasionally a trembling scream likened to a distressed woman.

It’s really encouraging to see evidence of successful local breeding, the pair pictured below (smaller female at left) with a newly fledged chick having recently departed the nest hollow.

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Barking Owl family, Newstead area, 10th October 2021

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3 responses to “The next generation

  1. They’re beautiful!

  2. Sadly, on the recent update to the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, their status has been upgraded to Critically Endangered in the state. Which makes these local breeding records extra important for the persistence and recovery of the species.

  3. An enchanting sequence of photographs, thanks Geoff.

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