Sunday, October 12, 2014

Owls and People: The Sooty Owl

Sooty Owl, (Tyto tenebricosa) image by way of J Lindsay
Reading about Sooty Owls, it seems probable to me that these mysterious dark owls may never take to the nesting boxes we're intending to instal in local trees. Although they are one of our medium sized forest owls, they are to all accounts extremely silent and shy. Their dark plumage helps to keep them unseen, shadows in dark forests. 

Sooty Owls are one of the masked species and have huge black eyes set in a heart-shaped mask that is barely outlined with white. Their plumage is dark grey to charcoal, speckled with white flecks, and they have an almost non-existent tail. David Hollands suggests it be called the Night Bird of Australia. 

They live in the same kind of steep, gullied dark forest as the Powerful Owl, and use nest hollows high in huge eucalyptus trees or in caves. Adults often roost in nesting hollows in Flooded Gums, perhaps 30 metres above the forest floor, or caves, while fledglings seem to spend their daytime hours in the thick canopies of the lower Lilly Pilly, Brushbox, Corkwood and Pittosporum forests.  

Sooty Owls are habitual birds that return to the same nesting place for many years, possibly returning there once grown as well. Nesting places have been found in caves (eg Jenolan Caves) with evidence of occupancy ranges in the thousands of years. 

A variety of Sooty Owl calls can be heard on the following link 

Most of this information garnered from:

Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars of Australia by David Hollands, published 2008 by Bloomings Books Pty Ltd. 

Sooty Owl, Photo by way of J Lindsay