Our Latest News

Celebrating the achievements of landcarers

04/12/2017

The Tamar Island Wetland Cares Volunteer Group has been recognised in the 2017 Landcare Tasmania Awards.More

Horsetail Falls walk now open

15/11/2017

Visitors to the West Coast are in for some spectacular views on the new Horsetail Falls walk near Queenstown.More

Bruny Island Neck lookout re-opens

10/11/2017

The walkways and lookout at the Bruny Island Neck will re-open to the public today, following the completion of a new, larger car park that will provide improved access to the popular lookout.More

Masked Owl, Tyto novaehollandiae

Description

Photo copyright Dave Watts
The Masked Owl is the largest of Tasmania's nocturnal birds, reaching 530mm. The upper parts are a blackish-brown with chestnut and orange barring, while the undersurface is rufous to white, speckled with dark brown. The conspicuous facial disc is chestnut to white, with a darker margin and darker around the bill and below the eyes.

Males and females are similar in colouring, though females are markedly larger. Tasmanian birds are considerably larger than their mainland counterparts.

The Tasmanian subspecies of the Masked Owl, T. n. castenops, is listed as endangered in Tasmania, as a result of habitat loss.

Habitat

The Masked Owl is found singularly or in pairs in forests, woodlands, parks and adjacent open country. Masked Owls are territorial, and pairs remain in or near the territory all year round.

Diet

Masked Owls feed mainly on rodents, rabbits and small marsupials such as bandicoots. They will also take possums, reptiles, birds and insects. Hunting takes place in the early hours of night.

Breeding

The nest is a bare chamber located deep in a tree hollow, lined with soil, sand or soft wood mulch. Two to three eggs are laid and are incubated by the female, while the male provides the food. The young birds remain in the vicinity of the nest and are fed by the parent birds for a further month after fledging.

Call

The Masked owl has a loud, harsh screeching call. It is rarely heard. (Audio recordings courtesy of David Stewart/Nature Sound)
Distribution Map courtesy Natural Values Atlas, data from theLIST
© 2010 State of Tasmania

Distribution

The Masked Owl occurs throughout coastal mainland Australia, although it is not common. It is also found in New Guinea and Indonesia.

In Tasmania, the species was once widespread and common, however numbers have decreased due to habitat loss. They are difficult to see in the wild.