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Aegothelidae – Owlet-nightjars

Mountain Owlet-nightjar in Indonesia: Photo by Cathy Pasterczyk

Welcome to our Aegothelidae guide! Known as owlet-nightjars, these birds are a family of nocturnal species found across Australasia. They are recognized for their compact, owl-like appearance and habit of roosting in tree hollows or rock crevices during the day. Owlet-nightjars are agile fliers and hunters, preying on insects and small animals at night. Explore our guide to learn more about the habits, habitats, and behaviors of these elusive and fascinating birds.

Overview of Aegothelidae

These small nocturnal birds from Australia and New Guinea possess a unique appearance, blending features of a small owl and a nightjar. The species vary in their facial bristles and plumes, with some having a distinct tangle of filamentous feathers around their face. Like other birds in the caprimulgiform families, owlet-nightjars can enter a state of torpor when food is scarce or temperatures drop. Despite their specialized nocturnal habits, morphological and DNA analyses reveal they are more closely related to swifts than to other nocturnal birds in their order.