Types of Owls in Australia


There are a few different types of owls in Australia.


Owls are nocturnal birds of prey. They’ve got similar features to the diurnal raptors - a hooked bill, strong feet, excellent eyesight and hearing, and specialised feathers that allow silent flight. Owls around the world are famous for their calls, but most of Australian owls don’t sound like the owls of the Northern Hemisphere. Only the largest Australian Hawk Owl makes a vague owl sound, and the Barking Owl does a doglike barking, but most of the rest are sitting quietly in their perch as they look out for a prey on the ground.





Adult Barn Owl in Flight
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Types of Owls in Australia
There are a few different types of owls in Australia.

Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae) is found along all Australian coasts except the Pilbara region in Western Australia. It lives in forest and woodland and roosts in caves and tree hollows.

Captive Tasmanian Masked Owl
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Barn Owl (Tyto alba) is found almost everywhere in Australia but breeds mainly in eastern parts of the continent. It lives in grasslands, crops, and riparian and open woodland and roosts in tree hollows, caves and buildings. Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) is found in inland areas of Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales, where it lives in tussock grasslands, swampy heath, crops and cane fields.

Barn Owl, Tyto Alba, Perched in a Tree
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Powerful Owls eat possums and require large territories to find enough food. Rufous Owl replaces Powerful Owl in the tropics, where it is the largest nocturnal predator in rainforests. The best way to see owls is spotlighting during the night.

Barn Owl Flying Towards the Tattered Edge of a Tree Stump in Order to Land
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Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa) is found along the coast of south-eastern Australia between Brisbane and Melbourne, where it lives in gullies in tall wet forests and roosts in caves and tree hollows. The smaller Lesser Sooty Owl (Tyto multipunctata) is found in tropical rainforests in far north Queensland between Cairns and Cooktown.

Barn Owl Portrait
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Types of Owls in Australia: Nightjars
Nightjars are also owls. White-throated Nightjar (Eurostopodus mystacalis) lives in forests and woodland along the whole coast of eastern Australia, between Melbourne and Cape York. Spotted Nightjar (Eurostopodus argus) lives in large areas of inland Australia, and on coasts except the Nullarbor coast in south, and the eastern coast between Townsville and the Victoria-South Australia border. Its habitats include scrubs, deserts, open forest and woodland. Large Tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) is only found on the eastern coast between Bundaberg and Karumba; and the northern coast of the Top End of Northern Territory. Australian Owlet Nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) is a common nightjar and lives in tree hollows almost everywhere in Australia, including Tasmania.

Tawny Frogmouth Looking Down Branch Towards Camera
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Places to See Australian Nightjars
Some good places to see Australian owls are Yarra Ranges National Park in Victoria, Julatten in far north Queensland, and Border Ranges National Park in New South Wales.

Tawny Frogmouth Head (Podargus Strigoides), Australia
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Types of Owls in Australia: Frogmouths
Frogmouths are nocturnal birds of prey that are often thought to be owls, however they are only vaguely related. There are three species of Frogmouths in Australia. Papuan Frogmouth (Podargus papuensis) is only found in the coastal areas of Cape York peninsula in far north Queensland, where it lives in mangroves and rainforests, often near water. Marbled Frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus) has an even smaller range on the eastern coast of Cape York, and the coastal areas around Brisbane in Queensland.

Close Up Image of a Tawny Frogmouth Blending in with Tree
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Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is a common frogmouth and is found everywhere in Australia (including Tasmania), except the waterless plains of inland Western Australia. Tawny Frogmouth is about 40cm-long grey bird with a large log-like head, yellow eyes and a broad bill. It is perfectly camouflaged and looks like a big log or a broken branch. It lives in forests and woodlands, mallee, tree-lined watercourses, parks and gardens. Tawny Frogmouths have small permanent territories and often use the same place to roost day after day. After dark they start hunting by perching and dropping on a prey on the ground. Tawny Frogmouths eat large insects, molluscs, crustaceans, frogs and small mammals. They live in permanent pairs and are often seen together or at least close to each other. Female lays 1-3 eggs between August and November which hatch after 29 days. Tawny Frogmouths sound "oom-oom-oom" which can continue for a half an hour.

Tawny Frogmouth, Australia
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Places to See Australian Frogmouths
Some good places to see Tawny Frogmouths are Royal National Park south of Sydney in New South Wales, Brisbane Ranges in Victoria and Carnarvon Gorge National Park in Queensland.















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