The Australian Owlet-nightjar is a common and widespread bird across much of Australia and Tasmania where habitat is suitable but it is rarely encountered due to its nocturnal lifestyle. When it is seen, more often than not the bird is found peering from tree hollows where it roosts by day, especially on sunny winter’s days when they will sun themselves at the hollow entrance to soak up warmth. Much less often the bird is flushed and then if you are lucky it may be seen perched out in the open.
Recently one of our Birds on Farms survey group members flushed an Owlet-nightjar at the historic Strathfieldsaye Estate on Lake Wellington near the Perry River. I was lucky to be in the small group surveying a 2 hectare woodland block where the bird was flushed and even luckier to get to the site where the bird perched briefly and take a few photos before it flew.
This beautiful little owl-like nocturnal bird, (1) with huge eyes, distinctive head markings and whiskers, has loads of charm. Photos posted on BirdLife East Gippsland’s Facebook page set a record for me for the most likes and shares which I think is testament to the wow factor of this bird.
Here are the images posted to Facebook to share with my Avithera followers who may not have seen them on Facebook.
Please click on photos to enlarge.
Note: (1) After Frogmouths, Owlet Nightjars are most closely related to Swifts – their taxonomic relationship with owls is distant.