Lower Eyre motorists asked to look out for owls

Barn owl

Barn owl

Motorists are being asked to keep an eye out for barn owls while driving along Lower Eyre Peninsula roads at night.

Barn owls are common birds in the area although not commonly seen because of their nocturnal habits.

Poonindie resident Daryl Montgomerie is hoping people could keep an eye out for them after finding two dead owls recently at North Shields.

“I think it’s worthwhile to make people aware they could be around,” he said.

“Don’t have an accident to avoid the bird but maybe lift your leg (off the accelerator) a little.”

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula district manager, and keen ornithologist Peter Wilkins said many owls and other nocturnal birds were usually hit and killed while collecting food items off the road.

He said barn owls were also highly susceptible to “secondary poisoning” after eating rats and mice that had eaten rodenticides.

“Owls are also more susceptible to car strike in their weakened sick state,” he said.

"They often sit in danger, on or near the road, unable to move because they are so ill from secondary poisoning.”

Mr Wilkins said to avoid poisoning owls people could consider using traps and cleaning up potential rodent hiding spots, or if using rodenticides to use them carefully and in confined spaces where owls could not access poisoned rodents.

He said when an owl had a “visual lock” on prey it often would not notice an incoming car or truck.

“Motorists wishing to avoid colliding with wildlife at night are advised to drive carefully using their peripheral vision to help spot wildlife that may be sitting on the road,” he said.

Barn owl photo by Graeme Richards.