Powerful Owl

Sounds & Calls

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)

The Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) is Australia’s largest species of owl. Found in forests and woodlands of south-eastern Australia, Powerful Owls are generally uncommon and have been adversely affected by land clearing. However they can sometimes be found living in urban areas (even in city parks!) and currently Birdlife Australia is sponsoring a research project aimed at gathering vital data about the behaviour of this species.

The deep, slow ‘woo-hoo’ call is diagnostic of Powerful Owl and is generally lower-pitched and more drawn out than the typical calls of the Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook). Powerful Owls also make a few other sounds including soft bleating calls, growls and young birds make high-pitched trills.

April is a good time to hear the sounds of Powerful Owls as they are entering the breeding season and often call just before dawn and just after dusk.

Listen to Powerful Owl Calls

The audio in the following video was recorded in the Royal National Park, Sydney, just before dawn. Between 0:08 and 1:32 presumably a male Powerful Owl (based on the lower pitch) is calling making the typical double note song. At 1:32 he is evidently joined by the female who makes a few softs call. The first bird (male?) makes the lower-pitched faster gruff call followed by a few lower pitcher double note calls. In the background you can also hear a Bassian Thrush (Zoothera lunulata) singing. 

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Powerful Owl – Typical call (female)


 SDAK-120a This sample features the typical calls of a female Powerful Owl which are slightly higher-pitched than the male. In this recording the fundamental is approximately 320-490hz. Recorded in Royal National Park, NSW.

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Powerful Owl – Typical call (male)


 SDAK-120b This sample features the typical calls of a male Powerful Owl which are slightly lower-pitched than the female. In this recording the fundamental is approximately 260-410hz. Recorded in Royal National Park, NSW.

This following audio sample was recorded in the southern Blue Mountains and features two Powerful Owls calling. The deeper call is the male and the higher pitched call is the female. At about 23 seconds you can hear a Yellow-bellied Glider glide in from the right and land and scramble up a tree to the left. An Australian Owlet-Nightjar calls a couple of times in the background.

Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)