HELPING HAND: WIRES carer Sandra Byrne with an endangered grass owl that has come into care. PHOTOS: DEBRAH NOVAK
HELPING HAND: WIRES carer Sandra Byrne with an endangered grass owl that has come into care. PHOTOS: DEBRAH NOVAK

Carer branches out with discovery of rare owl

A RARE owl is on the road to recovery after being hit by a car at the Harwood Bridge turnoff.

Lower Clarence WIRES carer Sandra Byrne thought she had struck gold when the eastern grass owl - listed as a vulnerable species in NSW - came into her care on April 5, but had serious concerns for its future.

"Up until (Sunday) I thought (the owl) would have to be euthanised because she has a broken clavicle (wishbone) but after putting her into a bigger cage and watching her trying to fly we might be able to nurse her back to health," Mrs Byrne said.

"Each day she seems to be getting a bit better."

While improvements have been made, Mrs Byrne said it might be a while before the raptor could be released into the wild because of a wing injury which has its feathers sticking up at a funny angle.

"It will have to be flying perfectly to be released because they are silent nocturnal flyers," she said.

"The feathers are so important - if a feather's out of place it makes a noise and whatever prey they are after they'll miss.

"It's still early days yet but because it's an endangered species it can stay as long as it likes."

This is the first time a grass owl has come into the care of a Clarence Valley WIRES member.

"It's pretty exciting to be this close to a rare species such as this grass owl and being this close we get to learn so much more about them," she said.

If you find an injured native animal phone WIRES on 6643 4055.

For information on ways to donate or volunteer go to http://www.cvwires.com.au.

Eastern Grass Owl

 The eastern grass owl is a medium-sized, ground-dwelling bird with a facial disc typical of tyto owls.

 They are found in areas of tall grass, including grass tussocks, in swampy areas, grassy plains, swampy heath and in cane grass or sedges on flood plains.

 This species breeds exclusively on the ground. Nests are found in trodden grass, and often accessed by tunnels through vegetation.

 Eastern grass owl numbers can fluctuate greatly, increasing especially during rodent plagues.



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