Re: Owlet-nightjars

Subject: Re: Owlet-nightjars
From: Carol Probets <>
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 11:37:04 +1100
Allan Benson asked:
> Is this usual behaviour for Owlet Nightjars to be on the road?
>We found no dead Owlet Nightjars on the road the next day but the police
>say they see lots killed at night. ...

Allan and all,

Like Denise and Richard, I have sometimes seen Owlet-nightjars on the road
or sitting beside the road. This species is only reported sporadically by
Blue Mountains Bird Observers, and in my experience they're not heard here
nearly as often as they are in more inland areas, yet on one night in June
96 I saw three in the car headlights within just a few kilometres along the
Mt Hay Road. Usually I don't see any along there. Other than that, most of
the Owlet-nightjars I've seen locally have been just piles of feathers in
the bush, indicating they are quite vulnerable to predation. Allan's story
brought to mind two memorable experiences:

1. Early 90s. A knock on the door at night. It's my friend Andrew cradling
something in his jumper. He had been driving along a fire trail and
accidentally hit a bird, so he brought it straight to me. It was a stunned
Owlet-nightjar, and I couldn't believe how cute it was, it looked just like
a fluffy toy. After an hour or so in a cardboard box it recovered and
became restless, so I banded it and we took it back to where it came from,
and watched as it flew up into a tree, looked around and then disappeared
into the darkness.

2. Last week. A phone call from a local camping/adventure shop. One of the
staff had found a pair of wings while bushwalking at Leura and wondered if
I could come and identify them. "They're small and brown" I was told, and I
imagined some decomposing and unidentifiable wings from perhaps a
honeyeater or thornbill. Well I went to the shop and was handed a perfect,
complete pair of Owlet-nightjar wings, neatly pinned to a piece of
cardboard (obviously they were pinned to the board AFTER they were found).
There had been no other remains of the bird found. What predator might
leave just a perfect pair of wings behind?


Carol Probets
Katoomba NSW

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