Bird Word: Nocturnal

  • Nocturnal: active at night, such as owls. (The opposite is diurnal, or active in the day time.)

I should go out birding more at night.

After all, if I want to actually see nocturnal birds, as opposed to merely hearing them, I have to make the effort to get out there in the wild of the night.

Owls and Frogmouths

From time to time – usually on those occasions when there is absolutely nothing on television (which is an increasing phenomenon these days) and we are just sitting reading or talking, we are aware of the night sounds outside. We will occasionally hear a screeching Barn Owl or the soft “ooming” of the Tawny Frogmouth. I have yet to get good shots of these two species.

Australian Owlet-Nightjar:

Another nice one to hear is the Australian Owlet-Nightjar, an occasional visitor to our garden. I actually got a really good view of one of these one beautiful afternoon a few years ago. It had settled on a dead limb of a neighbour’s tree and was quietly sunning itself. It was much smaller than I thought it would be.

Southern Boobook Owl

It has been many years since the last Boobook visit to our garden. This would have to be a favourite of mine; the haunting “boo-book” call echoes far in the Australian bush at night. My daughter hears one and sometimes two calling near her home in Clare in the mid-north of South Australia.

Spotted Nightjar

This well camouflaged species I’ve often seen while driving at night. I thought I would never get to photograph this species until a while back when a friend showed me where one was regularly roosting. Read about the Spotted Nightjar here, along with a photo.

Spotted Nightjar

Spotted Nightjar


When our children (who are now adults) were little we often went camping. A big part of any camping trip was to go out for a walk after dark with several bright torches. We would search for possums, owls and frogmouths, and any other animals getting out and about under the cover of darkness.

Must start doing that again.

Further reading:


2 Responses to “Bird Word: Nocturnal”

  1. Dabbler Duck says:

    The owlet-nightjars are tiny, but they have the sweetest whiskery faces and huge eyes.

    I’m yet to have the pleasure of seeing any of the owls in the wild. One day!

  2. Trevor says:

    Patience – you will be rewarded someday with wonderful views. They are indeed something special. Keeping looking.

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