A female Powerful Owl has been spotted with a Common ring-tail possum in her claws, not far from the Merri Parklands. Craig Lupton, Senior Biodiversity Officer, at Yarra City Council, photographed the bird near the Yarra River in Fairfield on 16 April 2020. Craig said: "She’ll sit on it [the possum] until dusk, devour it, then fly off into the night to continue looking for a mate and foraging."
As an apex predator, this urban Powerful Owl commonly feeds on Ring-tail possums, young Brush-tail possums, and quite possibly Grey-headed flying foxes and some species of day birds. It's inspiring to see these birds utilising our precious urban bushland areas.
Powerful Owls are winter breeders, nesting in late May to early June. They make their nests in trees with a large hollow, preferably a eucalypt over 200 years old. Almost like clockwork, the female enters her nest hollow at the same time each year.
The male Powerful Owl's call is an impressive low, rather mournful-sounding and far-carrying double-hoot, "whoo-hooo," each note lasting a few seconds at least, broken up by a brief silence and the second note being usually higher pitched than the first. The female has a similar call but has a higher pitched voice. Duets are frequently heard at the onset of breeding. Unpaired males frequently call much more regularly than paired ones. April and May are key times to be listening for Powerful Owl calls in bushland along the Yarra River, Merri Creek and Darebin Creek.
The City of Yarra's Biodiversity Team and their bushland contractor are working with Nick Bradsworth (Deakin University Urban Powerful Owl PhD student) to determine if a breeding pair of Powerful Owls exists in Yarra.