The barking owl at night. PHOTO: PETER KNOCK.
The barking owl at night. PHOTO: PETER KNOCK.

SAVE ME: Barking owl on endangered bird list

BUNGAWALBIN is a hot spot for the barking owl.

After fires ravaged the forests south of Casino last year, much of the barking owl's habitat was lost and for a bird already on the endangered list, this isn't good news.

Nature Conservation Council's ecologist Peter Knock said the owls like the hollows in trees and many of these were destroyed in the fires.

Mr Knock has been climbing trees at Jimmy Malecki's Bungawalbin property to install sound equipment to track the owls.

"At night we look for hollow bearing trees with nests," Mr Knock said.

"The sound alerts locate the owls."

 

Nature Conservation Council ecologist Peter Knock installing sound technology to track the barking owl in Bungawalbin. PIC: JIMMY MALECKI
Nature Conservation Council ecologist Peter Knock installing sound technology to track the barking owl in Bungawalbin. PIC: JIMMY MALECKI

 

He estimated 20 per cent of hollow trees were lost in the fires in the Richmond Clarence lowlands.

The Nature Conservation Council set up a crowd-funding campaign and raised $80,000 to help fire affected communities.

Some of the money went towards the purchase of 150 nest boxes for the barking owl.

The boxes are made by Hollow Log Homes in Queensland who have been building bird boxes for 20 years.

Some of the boxes are plywood and others are made of recycled plastic which means they will last more than 40 years, unless there is another fire, Mr Knock said.

And why out of all the animals threatened should we care about the barking owl?

"The owl is a pinnacle predator," Mr Knock said.

"If you protect owls, you protect the underpinning ecosystem."

The Nature Conservation Council had planned several workshops with landowners about saving the owl but COVID-19 halted face-to-face workshops.

Instead, they have produced videos and plan webinars to keep people informed.

The Large Forest Owl project is part of the NSW Government Hotspots Program and Saving Our Species campaign.

And yes, the owls bark like a dog, so much so that Mr Malecki's dogs bark back when they hear the owl's call.

If you are a landowner in the Bungawalbin area and want to help the barking owl with nest boxes email pknock@nature.org.au

Find out more about the project here.

 

 

Nature Conservation Council ecologist Peter Knock sets up sound recording in the Bungawalbin forest to track barking owls. PIC: SUSANNA FREYMARK
Nature Conservation Council ecologist Peter Knock sets up sound recording in the Bungawalbin forest to track barking owls. PIC: SUSANNA FREYMARK

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