THE SECRET LIFE OF POWERFUL OWLS

(Left to right) Dr Beth Mott (BirdLife Australia), Cr Waddell, Cr Browne, Deb Fleet (Sydney Wildlife), Michael Bianchino, Mayor Ruddock, Cr Heyde, Georgia Cameron
(Left to right) Dr Beth Mott (BirdLife Australia), Cr Waddell, Cr Browne, Deb Fleet (Sydney Wildlife), Michael Bianchino, Mayor Ruddock, Cr Heyde, Georgia Cameron

Byles Creek Valley environmentalists Michael Bianchino and Georgia Cameron revealed the Secret Life of Powerful Owls to a captive audience including Mayor Ruddock and three Councillors at Hornsby Library on Saturday 7 March.

The fully-booked interactive event included original music, photos and videos designed to entertain and educate participants on Australia’s largest owl, Ninox strenua, which resides in parliaments across the Bushland Shire.

Despite its impressive wingspan of up to 140cm and daily diet of a Ringtail Possum or Flying Fox, this nocturnal apex predator is a threatened species with a vulnerable conservation status in NSW.

A highlight of the presentation was a remarkable rescue, rehabilitation and release story of prematurely fledged Powerful Owlet ‘Bethany’ with special guests Dr Beth Mott of Birdlife Australia’s Powerful Owl Project and Deb Fleet a local Sydney Wildlife volunteer carer.

Photographer and musician Mr Bianchino said it was a real hoot to see Mayor Ruddock and Councillors Browne, Heyde and Waddell attend the talk.

“But sadly recent mapping by BirdLife Australia estimated that a third of Powerful Owl habitat has been lost in the recent bushfires,” Mr Bianchino said.

Author of the ‘Mikey the Powerful Owlet’ books Ms Cameron said we’ve also suffered an unprecedented loss of Powerful Owls locally this summer – an adult male through roadkill and three juvenile Owlets, one as a result of electrocution on power lines.

“We urge Council to support the local Powerful Owl Project and Sydney Wildlife through a small grant to enable community education and encourage more citizen scientists to get involved,” Ms Cameron said.

“Even a symbolic gesture such as adopting the Powerful Owl as the faunal emblem of Hornby Shire could go a long way to recognising the significant role this majestic raptor plays in our local environment,” she said.

Councillor Heyde said it’s incredibly exciting that these huge owls make Hornsby Shire their home – they bring joy and wonder into our lives.

“Council should do everything it can to protect them,” Cr Heyde said.

The event raised another $155 through gold coin donations for Sydney Wildlife, bringing the duos fundraising total for wildlife charities including Birdlife Australia, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation and Higher Ground Raptors to over $6,000 with the support of the local community.

If you’d like to see ‘The Secret Life of Powerful Owls’ presentation at your community group or school, contact Michael and Georgia at [email protected]