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The distribution of records for the seven species of owls that have been recorded in the Sydney region are presented. Records made during the past decade have been compared, where possible, with records made since the beginning of the twentieth century. Information is also presented on aspects of the ecology (diet, habitat, nest sites, roost sites, breeding success) of these species in the Sydney region.

The Powerful Owl is widely distributed, albeit at very low population density, throughout the outer suburbs of the greater metropolitan area, particularly where these suburbs adjoin substantial areas of bushland and reserves. The Sooty Owl and the Masked Owl are restricted to a few such locations near Sydney, but both are more common in the wetter and the drier forests, respectively, of the Central Coast. The Barking Owl appears to be uncommon and of concern because this species is poorly conserved in national parks of the region and its habitat is threatened by continued clearing for agriculture and urban developments. The Grass Owl appears to be a rare vagrant to the Sydney region. The Southern Boobook and the Barn Owl may be common in the region, but their distribution and abundance appears to have been under-represented by official records. The status of all owls is imperfectly known within the most suburban parts of the Sydney metropolitan area and on surrounding semi-rural properties. Efforts are needed to encourage broadscale community participation in voluntary surveys for owls (and several of their main prey species) throughout residential areas. The conservation of owls in the Sydney region depends on the protection of extensive bushland areas from urban and rural development, especially the major forested gully systems which provide essential nesting, roosting and core foraging habitat for most species. The role of fire frequency and weed control in Sydney's urban bushland needs to be examined in terms of its impact on populations of the Common Ringtail Possum, and other important prey species of the owls.

Bell, H. L. 1983. Forty years of change in the avifauna of a Sydney suburb. Australian Birds 18: 1-6.
Chafer, C. J. 1992. Observations of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Regions of New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 14: 289-300.
Chafer, C. J. and Anderson, M. 1994. Sooty Owls in the Hacking River Catchment. Australian Birds 27: 77-84.
Cooke, R., Wallis, R. and Webster, A. 2002. Urbanization and the ecology of Powerful Owls ( Ninox strenua) in outer Melbourne, Victoria. Pp. 100-106 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, edited by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Debus, S. J. S. 1994. The Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa in New South Wales. Australian Birds (supplement) 28: 4-19.
Debus, S. J. S. 1995. Surveys of large forest owls in northern New South Wales: methodology, calling behaviour and owl responses. Corella 19: 38-50.
Debus, S. J. S. 1997. The Barking Owl in New South Wales. Australian Birds 30: 53-80.
Debus, S. J. S. 2001. Surveys of the Barking Owl and Masked Owl on the North-west Slopes of New South Wales. Corella 25: 5-11.
Debus, S. J. S. and Chafer, C. J. 1994. The Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in New South Wales. Australian Birds (supplement) 28: 21-38.
Debus, S. J. S. and Rose, A. B. 1994. The Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae in New South Wales. Australian Birds (supplement) 28: 40-64.
Debus, S. J. S., Maciejewski, S. E. and McAllan, I. A. W. 1998. The Grass Owl in New South Wales. Australian Birds 31: 29-45.
Debus, S. J. S., Agnew, L. R. and Schulz, M. 2001. Surveys of the Grass Owl Tyto capensis in coastal New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 19: 94-102.
Garnett, S. T. and Crowley, G. M. 2000 The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Environment Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
Higgins, P. J. (Ed.) 1999 Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol. 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Hobcroft, D. and James, D. J. 1997. Records of the Grass Owl from southern New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 17: 91-93.
Hollands, D. 1991 Birds of the Night. Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
Hoskin, E. S., Hindwood, K. A. and McGill, A. R. 1991 The Birds of Sydney, County of Cumberland, New South Wales, 1770-1989. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Sydney.
Kavanagh, R. P. 1997. Ecology and Management of Large Forest Owls in South-eastern Australia. Ph.D Thesis, University of Sydney, Sydney.
Kavanagh, R. P. 2002a. Comparative diets of the Powerful Owl ( Ninox strenua), Sooty Owl ( Tyto tenebricosa) and Masked Owl ( Tyto novaehollandiae) in south-eastern Australia. Pp. 175-191 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, edited by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. 2002b. Conservation and management of large forest owls in south-eastern Australia. Pp. 201-219 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, edited by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Bamkin, K. L. 1995. Distribution of nocturnal forest birds and mammals in relation to the logging mosaic in south-eastern New South Wales, Australia. Biological Conservation 71: 41-53.
Kavanagh, R. P., Debus, S. J. S., Rose, A. B. and Turner, R. J. 1995a. Diet and habitat of the Barking Owl Ninox connivens in New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 16: 137-144.
Kavanagh, R. P., Debus, S., Tweedie, T. and Webster, R. 1995b. Distribution of nocturnal forest birds and mammals in north-eastern New South Wales: Relationships with environmental variables and management history. Wildlife Research 22: 359-377.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Jackson, R. 1997. Home-range, movements, habitat and diet of the Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa near Royal National Park, Sydney. Pp. 2-13 in Australian Raptor Studies 2, edited by G. V. Czechura and S. J. S. Debus. Birds Australia Monograph No. 3. RAOU, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Murray, M. 1996. Home-range, habitat and behaviour of the Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae near Newcastle, New South Wales. Emu 96: 250-257.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Peake, P. 1993. Survey procedures for nocturnal forest birds: an evaluation of variability in census results due to temporal factors, weather and technique. Pp. 86-100 in Australian Raptor Studies, edited by P. Olsen. Australian Raptor Association, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Stanton, M. A. 2002. Response to habitat fragmentation by the Powerful Owl ( Ninox strenua), Sooty Owl ( Tyto tenebricosa) and Masked Owl ( Tyto novaehollandiae) and other nocturnal fauna in southeastern Australia. Pp. 265-276 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, ed. by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Keast, A. 1995. Habitat loss and species loss: the birds of Sydney 50 years ago and now. Australian Zoologist 30: 3-24.
Lavazanian, E., Wallis, R. and Webster, A. 1994. Diet of Powerful Owls ( Ninox strenua) living near Melbourne, Victoria. Wildlife Research 21: 643-646.
Lundie-Jenkins, G. 1993. The diet of the Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa in the Blue Mountains, N. S. W. Emu 93: 124-127.
McNabb, E. G. 1996. Observations on the biology of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in southern Victoria. Australian Bird Watcher 16: 267-295.
McNabb, E. G. 2002. Notes on the diet and observations of the Southern Boobook ( Ninox novaeseelandiae) in Southern Victoria. Pp. 192-198 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, ed. by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
O'Brien, D. 1990. Owls and nightjars on the Central Coast. Australian Birds 24: 9-19.
Olsen, P. and Marples, T. G. 1993. Geographic variation in egg size, clutch size and date of laying of Australian raptors Falconiformes and Strigiformes. Emu 93: 167-179.
Pavey, C. R. 1995. Food of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in suburban Brisbane, Queensland. Emu 95: 231-232.
Pavey, C. R., Smyth, A. K. and Mathieson, M. T. 1994. The breeding season diet of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua at Brisbane, Queensland. Emu 94: 278-284.
Recher, H. F. 1999. The state of Australia's avifauna: a personal opinion and prediction for the new millennium. Australian Zoologist 31: 11-27.
Sansom, C. 1991. Observations of Powerful Owls at Pennant Hills. Australian Birds 25: 18-21.
Taylor, I. 1994 Barn Owls: predator-prey relationships and conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge U. K.
Wood, K. A. 1998. Distribution and abundance of landbirds in the County of Camden, New South Wales. Corella 22: 1-16.
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Contents

Figures & Tables

References

Bell, H. L. 1983. Forty years of change in the avifauna of a Sydney suburb. Australian Birds 18: 1-6.
Chafer, C. J. 1992. Observations of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Regions of New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 14: 289-300.
Chafer, C. J. and Anderson, M. 1994. Sooty Owls in the Hacking River Catchment. Australian Birds 27: 77-84.
Cooke, R., Wallis, R. and Webster, A. 2002. Urbanization and the ecology of Powerful Owls ( Ninox strenua) in outer Melbourne, Victoria. Pp. 100-106 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, edited by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Debus, S. J. S. 1994. The Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa in New South Wales. Australian Birds (supplement) 28: 4-19.
Debus, S. J. S. 1995. Surveys of large forest owls in northern New South Wales: methodology, calling behaviour and owl responses. Corella 19: 38-50.
Debus, S. J. S. 1997. The Barking Owl in New South Wales. Australian Birds 30: 53-80.
Debus, S. J. S. 2001. Surveys of the Barking Owl and Masked Owl on the North-west Slopes of New South Wales. Corella 25: 5-11.
Debus, S. J. S. and Chafer, C. J. 1994. The Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in New South Wales. Australian Birds (supplement) 28: 21-38.
Debus, S. J. S. and Rose, A. B. 1994. The Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae in New South Wales. Australian Birds (supplement) 28: 40-64.
Debus, S. J. S., Maciejewski, S. E. and McAllan, I. A. W. 1998. The Grass Owl in New South Wales. Australian Birds 31: 29-45.
Debus, S. J. S., Agnew, L. R. and Schulz, M. 2001. Surveys of the Grass Owl Tyto capensis in coastal New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 19: 94-102.
Garnett, S. T. and Crowley, G. M. 2000 The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Environment Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
Higgins, P. J. (Ed.) 1999 Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol. 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Hobcroft, D. and James, D. J. 1997. Records of the Grass Owl from southern New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 17: 91-93.
Hollands, D. 1991 Birds of the Night. Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
Hoskin, E. S., Hindwood, K. A. and McGill, A. R. 1991 The Birds of Sydney, County of Cumberland, New South Wales, 1770-1989. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Sydney.
Kavanagh, R. P. 1997. Ecology and Management of Large Forest Owls in South-eastern Australia. Ph.D Thesis, University of Sydney, Sydney.
Kavanagh, R. P. 2002a. Comparative diets of the Powerful Owl ( Ninox strenua), Sooty Owl ( Tyto tenebricosa) and Masked Owl ( Tyto novaehollandiae) in south-eastern Australia. Pp. 175-191 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, edited by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. 2002b. Conservation and management of large forest owls in south-eastern Australia. Pp. 201-219 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, edited by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Bamkin, K. L. 1995. Distribution of nocturnal forest birds and mammals in relation to the logging mosaic in south-eastern New South Wales, Australia. Biological Conservation 71: 41-53.
Kavanagh, R. P., Debus, S. J. S., Rose, A. B. and Turner, R. J. 1995a. Diet and habitat of the Barking Owl Ninox connivens in New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher 16: 137-144.
Kavanagh, R. P., Debus, S., Tweedie, T. and Webster, R. 1995b. Distribution of nocturnal forest birds and mammals in north-eastern New South Wales: Relationships with environmental variables and management history. Wildlife Research 22: 359-377.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Jackson, R. 1997. Home-range, movements, habitat and diet of the Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa near Royal National Park, Sydney. Pp. 2-13 in Australian Raptor Studies 2, edited by G. V. Czechura and S. J. S. Debus. Birds Australia Monograph No. 3. RAOU, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Murray, M. 1996. Home-range, habitat and behaviour of the Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae near Newcastle, New South Wales. Emu 96: 250-257.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Peake, P. 1993. Survey procedures for nocturnal forest birds: an evaluation of variability in census results due to temporal factors, weather and technique. Pp. 86-100 in Australian Raptor Studies, edited by P. Olsen. Australian Raptor Association, Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, Melbourne.
Kavanagh, R. P. and Stanton, M. A. 2002. Response to habitat fragmentation by the Powerful Owl ( Ninox strenua), Sooty Owl ( Tyto tenebricosa) and Masked Owl ( Tyto novaehollandiae) and other nocturnal fauna in southeastern Australia. Pp. 265-276 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, ed. by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
Keast, A. 1995. Habitat loss and species loss: the birds of Sydney 50 years ago and now. Australian Zoologist 30: 3-24.
Lavazanian, E., Wallis, R. and Webster, A. 1994. Diet of Powerful Owls ( Ninox strenua) living near Melbourne, Victoria. Wildlife Research 21: 643-646.
Lundie-Jenkins, G. 1993. The diet of the Sooty Owl Tyto tenebricosa in the Blue Mountains, N. S. W. Emu 93: 124-127.
McNabb, E. G. 1996. Observations on the biology of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in southern Victoria. Australian Bird Watcher 16: 267-295.
McNabb, E. G. 2002. Notes on the diet and observations of the Southern Boobook ( Ninox novaeseelandiae) in Southern Victoria. Pp. 192-198 in Ecology and Conservation of Owls, ed. by I. Newton, R. Kavanagh, J. Olsen and I. Taylor. CSIRO, Melbourne.
O'Brien, D. 1990. Owls and nightjars on the Central Coast. Australian Birds 24: 9-19.
Olsen, P. and Marples, T. G. 1993. Geographic variation in egg size, clutch size and date of laying of Australian raptors Falconiformes and Strigiformes. Emu 93: 167-179.
Pavey, C. R. 1995. Food of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua in suburban Brisbane, Queensland. Emu 95: 231-232.
Pavey, C. R., Smyth, A. K. and Mathieson, M. T. 1994. The breeding season diet of the Powerful Owl Ninox strenua at Brisbane, Queensland. Emu 94: 278-284.
Recher, H. F. 1999. The state of Australia's avifauna: a personal opinion and prediction for the new millennium. Australian Zoologist 31: 11-27.
Sansom, C. 1991. Observations of Powerful Owls at Pennant Hills. Australian Birds 25: 18-21.
Taylor, I. 1994 Barn Owls: predator-prey relationships and conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge U. K.
Wood, K. A. 1998. Distribution and abundance of landbirds in the County of Camden, New South Wales. Corella 22: 1-16.
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