Nocturnal birds are elusive, mysterious and often less well understood than their day-active cousins. They are essential regulators of food webs as predators of mammals, birds, frogs and invertebrates. Adaptations to nocturnal life such as exceptional eyesight, hearing and a good sense of smell, give this special group of birds unparalleled hunting prowess.
A fantastic new guide from BirdLife Australia will help you learn about and identify seventeen of our Australian nocturnal birds.
Nocturnal birds occur Australia-wide, and occupy a large range of habitats. Many species occur in wooded areas, as they rely on prey associated with this habitat type. Species presented in the guide which may be found in our region include:
- Hawk Owls – Powerful Owl (Vulnerable), Barking Owl (Vulnerable), Southern Boobook
- Masked Owls – Eastern Barn Owl, Masked Owl (Vulnerable)
- Frogmouths – Tawny Frogmouh
- Nightjars – Spotted Nightjar
- Owlet-Nightjar – Australian Owlet-Nightjar
Sometimes finding nocturnal birds requires more than your eyes:
- Listening for mobbing by day birds can help you locate an often highly camouflaged owl or nightjar
- You can also find nocturnal birds through the signs of their activity such as regurgitated pellets or prey remains
- White wash, the paint-like areas of urates from faeces, is often typical under roosts of many nocturnal birds.
To identify which species of bird you are looking at, remember to look at body size and beak shape first, and plumage characters second.