I was working late at my computer tonight when I heard a sound outside. I raced out, torch in hand. Sure enough – I heard a Southern Boobook owl calling. I tried to follow the sound but after walking across our five acre block of land it was still no closer.
I expect it was at least a kilometre away because the night was very still and sounds travels a long way on evenings like this. Still, it is a significant recording. On checking my bird database on my computer it is over 22 years since I last recorded this species here at home. That’s exciting.
The Southern Boobook is found over a large part of Australia and is our smallest owl. It is also called a Mopoke because of its call. It feeds on small mammals such as mice, insects, bats and moths. It is almost entirely nocturnal but is sometimes seen out hunting on dull, cloudy days.
As yet I do not have a photo of this species taken in the wild. Instead I have a photo of a Powerful Owl taken through the wire of an aviary at the Adelaide Zoo.
You can read more about this owl on the Birds in Backyards site here.
You can read more about my encounters with owls, frogmouths and nightjars here.
During recent evenings there have been times when our house and garden are undisturbed by noise. No television and no noisy neighbours – the nearest are about 60 metres from our house. During these times we are aware of the wildlife in our garden – if they call. Last week it was a Brush-tailed Possum – I’ll write about that soon.
Tonight and last night we heard an Australian Owlet-nightjar calling briefly – not long enough to get a torch and track it down. Being nocturnal it had come out of its hiding place to feed. The photo above was taken a few years ago now. It shows “our” nightjar sunning itself in the entrance of its roosting hollow. You don’t often get a chance to see this species in broad daylight.
The Australian Owlet-nightjar looks like a miniature owl. It is only 20 – 24 cm long. It can be found all over Australia but is more often heard than seen.
One of the endearing little birds we have frequenting our garden is the Australian Owlet-nightjar, a small nocturnal bird more often heard than seen. Last night around midnight I was checking my emails because we had been in Adelaide shopping all afternoon and at a dinner in the evening. The house was quiet with no television or music.
From just outside my office I heard this small owl-like bird calling several times. Normally the sounds of the television would drown out its call.
Last year we had one roosting during the day time in a hollow limb of a tree near our house. It would come out most days about mid-morning to sun itself in the opening of the hollow. It would call several times before retreating back into the hollow. This daily habit enabled me to eventually get a reasonable but not brilliant photo.
It is nice to know it is still around.
I was delighted a few evenings ago to hear an Australian Owlet-nightjar calling in the garden. It’s really nice to observe that it is still around.
A few months ago we would hear this delightful nocturnal bird calling during the day. That’s right – during the day. It would come out of its hollow and sit in the sun for a half hour or so, calling occasionally.
Being a nocturnal bird I had not thought I’d ever get a chance to photograph this species, so it was a double delight – actually seeing the bird AND getting a reasonable photo.
From time to time birders – like anyone passionate about a hobby or interest – experience great defining moments. These special events could include:
- The moment when one sees an elusive species for the very first time.
- When one sees a favourite bird in all its colourful splendour, lit by the bright sunlight and perched picture perfect in full view.
- When a photograph of a bird turns out just right.
- When one has waited or searched patiently for a particular species, only to find it flitting around the car you left hours before your search began. (That happened to me with the Rufous Fantail once.)
- When one has a good view of a rare or hard to find species (like the Lyrebird following me down the track on Royal National Park near Sydney – it may be common to birders in that region but they are only found in the zoo here in South Australia).
My list could go on. One species I’d only had fleeting views of – and then only in the headlights of the car at speed at night – is the Spotted Nightjar. A few weeks ago I found (with some help from a friend) a single Spotted Nightjar roosting on the ground at the Pangarinda Arboretum (Click here for the full story).