Nature’s Gems

Australian Owlet-nightjar
Australian Owlet-nightjar

Australian Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus)

Australia is home to a number of unique nocturnal bird species. 

One of the smallest of these species is the Australian Owlet-nightjar. 

Cafe Metz

These birds are easily recognized for their owl-like face, long tail and small size. There are usually only two instances when this bird will be seen during the day:  when it is observed sitting at its roosts’ entrance or if it is flushed from its daytime roost. 

The call of the Australian Owlet-nightjar is one of the most common sounds of the Australian bush. Some of the calls that this bird makes one would think that it was coming from a much larger bird. 

Interestingly enough, the birds will also call in the middle of the day. 

These birds rely on hollows to roost and breed in. Wherever this type of suitable habitat exists, there will be Australian Owlet-nightjars. 

Thankfully, these small birds will also utilise nest boxes as a substitute for hollows. Their range extends over much of Australia (including Tasmania) and suitable habitats can range from the arid desert to high mountain ranges.

To see an Australian Owlet-nightjar is not always an easy feat. 

The best way to locate birds is to listen for their calls of a nighttime. 

Sometimes the birds may be seen if one is out spotlighting but usually I have seen the bird when I have accidentally flushed it from a day time roost. 

In one locality that I am familiar with, an Australian Owlet Night-jar has been present there for years. 

I am unsure as to whether it is the same bird but it is a good indication that if the habitat is suitable, these birds will have a steady presence. 

Throughout its range, the Australian Owlet-nightjar is a common bird. They are a bird that I hear call regularly in many of my travels. 

For anyone wanting to encounter this bird, I suggest learning their call and spending time looking for them in habitat that has many hollows. 

Eventually, your path will cross over with this beautiful nocturnal bird.