It's not spring.. yet... but the Eastern Grass Owl can,t wait as they begin their search for a mate before heading off to nest and settle down with their new family.
The ground-nesting owls are listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the NSW Threatened Species list by the independent Scientific Committee.
Jill Smith, Conservation Officer at the Office of Environment and Heritage, said the ghostly night birds mainly inhabit open tussock grasslands, grassy heathland and agricultural crops such as sugar cane in the coastal plains of the NSW north coast with occasional records on the north-western slopes and south to Sydney and vagrant records farther south.
“Because they are rare, sparsely distributed and nocturnal, the Eastern Grass Owl remains largely unstudied, but what we do know is they’re interesting and strikingly beautiful birds,” Ms Smith said.
“After finding their mate, they’ll build a nest in grasslands where they will form a system of grass tunnels to get to and from their nest.
“They will defend their family against predators by bursting out of one of their passageways, flying low and slowly, before dropping straight down again into the safety of their grass tunnels.”
Eastern Grass Owls are ground-nesting and about 35 centimetres tall when perched. They are closely related to barn owls, as seen in their large pale facial disc highlighting their eyes, while their feathers are a combination of white, browns, yellow-orange with silvery spots.
The Office of Environment and Heritage is seeking to learn more about these fascinating birds with a view of one day implementing a strategy for them so they can survive for years to come.
Anyone who spots what they believe to be an Eastern Grass Owl should contact their local National Parks and Wildlife Service office.
A survival strategy may fall under the Saving our Species conservation program where already 75 threatened species are being managed to help their surviveability in the future.
Threatened fauna and flora including the koala, brush-tailed rock wallaby and Wollemi pine are assigned to different management streams so the individual requirements of each species can be met.
The NSW community and businesses are invited to participate, because projects to save threatened species are best when they are collaborative efforts.
Saving our Species: environment.nsw.gov.au/savingourspecies/about.htm
Eastern Grass Owl: environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10819
Image credit: ©Tony Ashton (Tyto Tony)
Original story posted as: It’s dating and mating season for the Eastern Grass Owl
Original Media Release from: Daniel Stanton - http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/