Nature conservation

Threatened species

Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae)

Saving our Species strategy

This species has been assigned to the Landscape species management stream under the Saving our Species (SoS) program.

Justification for allocation to this management stream

This species is distributed across relatively large areas and is subject to threatening processes that generally act at the landscape scale (e.g. habitat loss or degradation) rather than at distinct, defineable locations.

Conservation status

Management objectives

This SoS strategy aims to ensure that the species is secure in the wild in NSW and that its NSW geographic range is extended or maintained and maintain its conservation status under the BC Act.

Species sightings and management sites across NSW

The map below displays the species’ distribution in NSW, based upon the species’ geographic range, habitat distribution or area of occupancy (to as high a resolution as available data allow, using a range of data sources).

Information about the species’ habitat and ecology is available here.

The map may also display one or more management sites where management of important populations is underway. More information is available in the tables below.

Your search returned one or more sites that are restricted due to the sensitive nature of either the species or the site. Individuals involved in management on these sites can access detailed information via the database.


The species occurs in the following IBRA (Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia) regions in NSW:

New England Tablelands
NSW North Coast
South East Corner
South Eastern Highlands
South Eastern Queensland
Sydney Basin

Proportion of the species' distribution on reserve

28% of the species' distribution occurs on reserve (within NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service estate).

Critical actions for this species

The key threats to the viability of landscape-managed species are loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat, and widespread pervasive factors such as impacts of climate change and disease. Many of these threats are addressed by NSW planning, native vegetation, and biodiversity legislation, policy and programs including the offsets program (BioBanking, NSW Biodiversity Offsets Policy for Major Projects), Biodiversity Certification, management of environmental water and reservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

Threats to this species are outlined here.

The actions listed in the action toolbox are supplementary to NSW legislation, policy and programs and can be used by stakeholders, where applicable to guide management at a site, regional or state scale.

Action toolbox

Action DescriptionScale
Develop management arrangements with landowners/managers at known nest/roost sites that aim to protect nest/roost trees and recruitment nest/roost trees (i.e. trees with large hollows), as well as cave nest/roost sites. Management agreements should include a miminum protection zone of 100m around nest/roost trees and protection of breeding habitat from destruction by fire, firewood and timber harvesting, heavy grazing by domestic stock and/or feral mammals, and fencing that may cause a collision risk. Nest/roost site 'management sites' should aim to capture high quality habitats for nesting/roosting and foraging such as, old growth trees and riparian areas. Consider fire management to regenerate ground cover/understorey vegetation to maintain prey species populations. Site
Identify areas where secondary poisoning from rodenticides is most prevalent. Use information on secondary poisoning events to target landowner/manager education and awareness raising actions. Education and awareness to include recommendations for the use of 'owl friendly' rodenticides. Site, Area
Identify locations on roads where masked owls have been hit by vehicles. Use a targeted public campaign involving broadcast media to increase reporting of masked owls, and other owls, by the general public. Identify characteristics of roads at high prevalence masked owl roadkill sites and investigate physical engineering or vegetation modification measures to mitigate or prevent masked owl road deaths. Identify other strategies for mitigation of roadkill including driver awareness programs and road signage. Site, Area
Trial camera traps at nest trees as a long term monitoring tool for assessing nest-site use and reproductive success. Apply this information to the development of nest/roost site suitability attributes that inform habitat management prescriptions. Site, Area
Survey and map known nest/roost sites across the area to inform habitat mapping, which should include vegetation, floristic, structural and condition attributes. Site, Area
Undertake strategic survey for the presence of masked owls within the species' core range to develop an accurate habitat model for NSW. State
Develop educational media and activites in collaboration with relevant organisations such as environmental groups, local councils, Local Land Services and OEH to increase awareness and understanding by landowners/managers of important habitat of masked owls and current conservation management actions to conserve local masked owls. Area
Provide mapping of known masked owl nest/roost sites to relevant land managers and fire management authorities for consideration in fire management and wildfire supression planning. Known active nest-sites should be pro-actively protected from wildfire and excluded from any prescribed burn areas. State
Supplement hollows to support prey species in localities where natural hollows have been depleted. While providing refuge hollows specifically for masked owls is desirable, it is difficult to create suitably large, thermally stable hollows for the species. Four options are available for potentially increasing the abundance of hollow-dependent vertebrates: nest boxes, recovered hollows (logs), chainsaw hollows and augered hollows. The latter shows great promise, and needs long term field assessment. Supplementation remains an experimental management action to benefit owls, and so should not be considered as adequately offsetting the destruction of natural hollows. Site, Area

How will this species be managed?

Key management sites for this threatened species are being identified by the NSW Government and other program partners, where feasible, cost-effective and beneficial management actions can be undertaken. Currently, 4 management sites have been identified for this threatened species.

Management sites

Click on column headers to sort
Site nameSite typeStatusLocal government area (LGA)
Scheyville National Park Priority management siteActive Hawkesbury 
Castlereagh Nature Reserve Priority management siteActive Penrith 
Wianamatta Nature Reserve Priority management siteActive Penrith 
Wianamatta Regional Park Priority management siteActive Blacktown, Penrith 

Are you or is someone you know doing conservation work for this species or in this area?

Contact us to tell us about the work. Your input will help OEH evaluate the status of threatened species and provide a broader picture of conservation work across NSW.