This southern boobook owl took up residence in a South Grafton workwear shop earlier this month and was reluctant to leave.
This southern boobook owl took up residence in a South Grafton workwear shop earlier this month and was reluctant to leave. Clarence Valley Wires

Boobook an owl for loitering

SOUTH GRAFTON clothing store Hip Pocket Workwear and Safety had an unusual customer recently ... in the form of a southern boobook owl which spent a weekend in the shop’s rafters.

The southern boobook is Australia’s smallest species of owl and while it is not endangered, a lack of suitable habitat in the Clarence Valley means they are a rare sight in the area.

Maggie Skeel from Clarence Valley WIRES said the owl was noticed in the shop on Friday afternoon two weeks ago but how it made it inside was a mystery given the business had been locked up the night before.

She said it may have entered the store during the day because often owls are chased by smaller birds in the daytime if their roosts are discovered.

Regardless of how it got there, it was reluctant to leave again, with the shop’s high ceilings making it impossible for volunteers to net the bird. But with the help of WIRES volunteer Sandy Webb and a specially designed bird trap provided by local ecologist and bird expert Dr Greg Clancy, the owl was finally captured the following Monday after eluding volunteers for much of the day.

After capture, the owl was weighed, banded and released back into the wild.



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