Australian Owlet-nightjar does exist

The Australian Owlet-nightjar DOES exist*.

This enigmatic little owl-like bird can be so frustrating. I have heard it calling many times in many places. It often calls at night from somewhere in our garden – but I’ve spent fruitless hours looking for glimpse of one. My only really good sighting occurred a few years ago in my neighbour’s garden. You can read about that here.

Finally I tracked down where our resident bird was roosting. It has taken up residence in the hollow of a tree branch about thirty metres from my office window. Almost every morning at about 10:30am this bird sits in the entrance of the hollow and will gives its chirr-chirr call once or twice before disappearing back into the hollow.

In the last week it has taken to calling once during the afternoon as well just on dark. On one occasion I was able to sneak outside, slowly aim the camera around the corner of the house and take a photo of it sitting in the entrance way. The photo below is not brilliant, but it is the best I’ve managed so far. I have thought of setting up a hide much nearer – in the form of a car with just a peep hole for the camera. Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

* John Tongue – please take note.

Australian Owlet-nightjar

Australian Owlet-nightjar


12 Responses to “Australian Owlet-nightjar does exist”

  1. Snail says:

    Well done! Success at last!

  2. Trevor says:


    Delightful little bird too – almost could call it “cute.”

  3. Duncan says:

    I’ve only had two sightings Trevor, once in the Mallee, and once near to home. Both full on close views though, wonderful little bird.

  4. John Tongue says:

    Hi Trevor,
    very cute stuffed bird!!

  5. Trevor says:

    It certainly is an elusive bird Duncan. Imagine my delight now in seeing it almost daily as it pops its head out of the hollow for a few minutes in the sun.

  6. Trevor says:

    John – jealousy can do strange things to otherwise wise heads. Next time you are in this part of the world….

  7. John Tongue says:

    Aaahh! The green-eyed monster!

  8. annette says:

    Hi Trevor,
    yes this Nighthar is cute, we had one nest in a nest box
    this time last year, it threw its eggs out, then laid/ hatched 3 more. We believe it has again returned this year, as we have again found an egg on the ground near nest box, so are keeping a look outto confirm its return.
    will keep watching.
    regards Bulks

  9. Trevor says:

    Thanks for sharing your observations Annette. This species has to be one of our all time favourites and it was a delight to have him living in our garden for so long. This has reminded me that we haven’t seen or heard him for many months. [sigh]

  10. jordon says:

    we have been lucky this season finding three australian owlet nightjar nests with about 5 young being successfully raised and we also got 6 photos, thats the advantage of having huge areas of remnant vegetation to look through

  11. Trevor says:

    Thanks Jordon – you are very lucky to have seen so many – and that they are breeding AND you got some photos. Where abouts are you in Australia.

  12. jordon says:

    i am on the lower eyre peninsula in port lincoln but these owlet-nightjars are at our shack about 20kms north of coffins bay, i have now lost them and only know where 1 of the birds is but i will be searching soon

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