Dr Penny Olsen 'The Norfolk Island Morepork: rebuilding a population from the last survivor’

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Thursday, 4 August 2022 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Morepork Owl - picture supplied by Parks Australia
Morepork Owl - picture supplied by Parks Australia

Penny, an Honorary Professor in Division of Ecology and Evolution, ANU led a group that found only one Morepork owl on Norfolk Island in 1986. What to do? A recovery program began and today a small population persists.


The Norfolk Island owl is a member of the group of smallish owls referred to as boobooks or moreporks. In 1986, concerned that the owl had not been seen for some years, Penny organised a group of friends to visit the island and conduct a search. They discovered that only one individual remained. What do you do with one owl? There were many decisions to be made and not a few hurdles to jump, but a recovery program began.  Today, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts, a small population persists.


Penny Olsen is an Honorary Professor in the Division of Ecology and Evolution at the Australian National University. After a career as a research scientist, she now mostly writes about natural history subjects.

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