1. Home
  2. Fun Animal Facts
  3. Australian Owlet-Nightjar: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!


Australian Owlet-Nightjar: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Discover a range of fun Australian owlet-nightjar facts and information to know more about these feathered friends.

If you consider yourself a night owl, then you are not the only one! The Australian owlet-nightjar is a species of owl that is the perfect fit for the word, night owl. Found living in various Australian forests, as well as shrubs and tall trees in New Guinea, this small bird might look like a ball of fluff if you do not pay close attention. They are primarily seen spending their days snuggled up in tree hollows and other holes made in tall trees, roosting. It is only in the night when they emerge and this is mostly to hunt. They are carnivorous in nature, eating small animals such as rats and mice, occasionally catching snakes too.

If you don't want to search around for fun facts like the Australian owlet-nightjar wingspan, their lifespan, feeding and breeding habits, then we have compiled the perfect guide for you to scroll through! Want to diversify your knowledge base and learn more about other interesting animals? Then check out the Amazon parrot and the blue jay.

Australian Owlet-Nightjar Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Australian owlet-nightjar?

The Australian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) is a type of owl.

What class of animal does an Australian owlet-nightjar belong to?

The Australian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) belongs to the birds (Aves) class, and its family is Aegothelidae.

How many Australian owlet-nightjars are there in the world?

The estimated population range of Australian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) birds in the world is unknown because they camouflage so well and only emerge at night to search for food.

Where does an Australian owlet-nightjar live?

These nocturnal birds, owlet-nightjars, live in the woods. The Australian owlet-nightjar range is throughout Australia as well as southern New Guinea.

What is an Australian owlet-nightjar's habitat?

Usually, the Australian owlet-nightjar habitat is in regions with suitable hollows and trees, like tree trunks or hollow branches, which they utilize for roosting at the nesting time and day. These elusive night predators are difficult to notice during the day because they prefer to stay concealed in their roosting chambers. Dense woods, open woodland, grasslands, mangrove swamps, and mallee brush are their natural habitats. These birds unlike their kin, prefer dry more exposed woodland habitats. However, a few birds of this species can and do survive in such habitats in New Guinea and Queensland.

Burrowing owls dwell on the ground and in holes, as their name suggests. They rarely reside in trees and prefer to build their nests in animal-made holes. Unlike other owl species that are only active at night, burrowing owls are active both during the day and at night.

Who do Australian owlet-nightjars live with?

The sedentary owlet-nightjar roosts in its hollow alone or in pairs during the breeding season.

How long does an Australian owlet-nightjar live?

The average longevity of an Australian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) is unknown.

How do they reproduce?

Their breeding season normally starts in late winter. Their nesting sites are normally found in suitable tree hollows or rock crevices. Green leaves are commonly used to line the nests. Nightjars owlets form permanent pairs. Clutches are usually made up of three to four slightly glossy, stiff white eggs incubated by the Australian owlet-nightjar female. The young are fed by both the Australian owlet-nightjar male and female and they fledge after a month. Each season, the pairs normally raise one brood. Both parents are responsible for building the nest and nurturing the children. When the young are 21-32 days old, they depart the nest. Another nocturnal predator called the ghost bat preys on this species.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Australian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) found in Australia is Least Concern listed by the IUCN Red List.

Australian Owlet-Nightjar Fun Facts

What do Australian owlet-nightjars look like?

In the Australian owlet-nightjar, two-color morphs and a transitional form have been observed. Gray morphs have a gray back and a whitish barred front, and a distinct black and pale striping on the head. The plumage of the rufous morph is a blend of brown and paler colors. Except for a few transitional males, this color phase is only seen in females from the North Australian species. Females, on the other hand, have more pronounced rufous coloring.

The below plumage is paler and sparingly barred with dark in all types. Two broad black stripes run from the peak of the eyes over the head, joining on the back. Males and females are nearly identical, except for the rufous-morph female. Their wings are short and pointed. The tail is curved and lengthy. The bill is small, but it spreads wide and is encircled by whiskers. When exposed to light, the huge brown eyes remain non-reflective, distinguishing them from other nocturnal birds whose eyes reflect red. Immature birds are similar to adults, although their black markings are less distinct.

The Australian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus) is the tiniest of all night birds observed in Australia and is also known as the moth owl, savanna owlet-nightjar, or owlet-nightjar.

How cute are they?

The tiniest of the night birds in Australia resembles a sugar glider, with its large dark eyes peeking out of a depression.

How do they communicate?

Listening for the calls at night is the best approach to determining whether this species is present. Owlet-nightjars have a wide range of bird calls, and the most common calls are a sequence of gentle churring and whistling notes. The calls of this species are one of the most common noises heard in the Australian wilderness at night. Other sounds like snarling calls are used to defend territories. Hissing calls are produced by this night bird when there is a threat as it roosts in tree hollows.

How big is an Australian owlet-nightjar?

The average length of owlet nightjars, a nocturnal bird of Australia, is about 8.3-10 in (21-25.4 cm). However, tawny frogmouth's length range is between 13-21 in (33–53.3 cm) for closely related night birds. Therefore, the length of tawny frogmouth is greater than owlet nightjars.

How fast can an Australian owlet-nightjar fly?

The flight of this species that resides throughout Australia and habitat in open woods is quick and direct, although it is usually only short.

How much does an Australian owlet-nightjar weigh?

The weight of these birds feed on small invertebrates and roosting in hollows is around 1.4-2.1 oz (39.6-59.5 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female birds of this species of Australia have no special name. However, a couple of birds form a strong bond and raise one brood each season.

What would you call a baby Australian owlet-nightjar?

There is not any specific title for Australian owlet-nightjar baby birds. Similar to other baby birds, they can be called chicks.

What do they eat?

In the style of a flycatcher, the owlet-nightjar, a nocturnal bird of Australia, feeds during the night by swooping from perches and catching insects from the airspace, ground, or branches and trunks. It can also feed using its wing. The Australian owlet-nightjar diet comprises a variety of insects, including beetles, ants, and grasshoppers. During the daytime, they perch in hollows in a suitable tree, partially to defend themselves from predators and partially to avoid being mistaken for owls by other birds.

Are they poisonous?

This bird that is widespread throughout Australia is not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

The Australian owlet-nightjar is one of Australia's most widespread birds and occurs throughout Australia and its islands. These birds are not suitable as pets. These birds that have a habitat in open woodlands can be found in captivity in a zoo, but raising them at home is not a smart option.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The Australian owlet-nightjar, familyAegothelidae, is Australia's tiniest nocturnal bird, with wide brown eyes which do not glow red if exposed to a spotlight or torch, unlike some other nocturnal birds.

The griffon vulture has a widespread distribution, including North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, from India to Portugal and Spain, and is most widely found throughout Mediterranean countries. They have a bad sense of smell and must rely exclusively on their vision to obtain food.

How did the Australian owlet-nightjar get its name?

Any birds in the family of moderate long-winged dusky or nocturnal birds, such as whip-poor-wills or common nighthawks, with a small bill, short legs, and velvety mottled plumage that feeds on bugs caught on the wing are called nightjars.

Are Australian owlet-nightjars endangered?

The owlet-nightjar is not an endangered species. This species is so well-hidden that it's impossible to tell if they are endangered. Deforestation, or the loss of trees of forests, will nevertheless, impact owlet-nightjar populations.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these tawny owl facts and harpy eagle facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Australian owlet nightjar coloring pages.

Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.

In need of more inspiration?