Gudelines released to protect Lake Macquarie and Newcastle's rarest owls

Powerful Owl. Pic by Kristen Hardy.

Powerful Owl. Pic by Kristen Hardy.

IF you live in Lake Macquarie, you might be lucky enough to spot the region's rarest owls.

One of these is the powerful owl, which has a 1.4-metre wingspan and stands 60 centimetres tall.

It waits until darkness to hunt, then silently swoops on its prey.

Some local residents have reported possums snatched by the birds from their backyards.

However, sightings of this bird, along with three other forest owls - the masked, sooty and barking owl - have become less frequent.

Powerful Owlet. Pic by Kristen Hardy.

Powerful Owlet. Pic by Kristen Hardy.

To protect the birds, which are listed as endangered, Lake Macquarie council has released its draft Interim Lake Macquarie Large Forest Owl Planning and Management Guidelines.

These guidelines provide a framework for future conservation strategies and research.

Powerful owl researcher David Bain believes the guidelines are vital.

Mr Bain heads non-profit organisation BirdLife Australia's powerful owl project, which aims to document the species' habits and record sightings.

The project was introduced in Lake Macquarie and Newcastle 16 months ago.

Mr Bain said it was important to protect the birds.

"In a lot of cases, [the owls'] favoured habitat is where we want to put developments," he said.

"We need to look at how we can achieve a balance between protecting native species and building our cities."

Visit lakemac.com.au to view and provide feedback on the Draft Interim Lake Macquarie Large Forest Owl Planning and Management Guidelines. Submissions close on August 24.

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