Spotted Nightjar

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Common Name: Spotted Nightjar
Scientific Name: Eurostopodus argus

Size: 10.6-13.8 inches (27-35 cm); Wingspan: 17.7-19.7 inches (45-50 cm)

Habitat: Oceania; occurs across most of mainland Australia, although it is generally absent east and south of the Great Dividing Range along the eastern seaboard from central Queensland to southeast South Australia and does not occur in Tasmania. Individuals may be locally nomadic or sedentary in northern regions, while southern birds are partially sedentary or migratory, wintering in northern Australia from May to September. The species may also winter on Indonesian islands in the Banda Sea, possibly for some individuals as a result of overshooting, with vagrants recorded as far north as Irian Jaya.

Found usually in open woodland, savanna and grasslands. Also found in forest and woods, mallee with eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Myoporum or Allocasuarina, acacia scrubland with sparse undergrowth, spinifex and tussock grassland, savanna woodland, and mangroves; prefers areas with sandy or stony ground and plenty of leaf litter. In Northern Australia, also low gravelly hills and ranges with rolling woodland and scrubland. On Aru Island, wintering birds frequent savanna, grassland and edges of rain-forest.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown amount of adult individuals with a declining population trend. Previously considered moderately abundant across inland and northern areas, the spotted nightjar may be becoming more rare, particularly in southern parts of its range as a result of habitat loss associated with land clearing, reduced productivity and overgrazing of remnant native vegetation. Predation by feral cats and foxes is also likely to be significantly impacting abundance in some areas. The species is now listed among Australia's 26 declining woodland birds. Diet: Mantids, Orthoptera, lacewings, beetles, moths and winged ants.

A crepuscular/nocturnal species most active after dark and before dawn, spotted nightjars are usually observed roosting, walking or running along the ground and are rarely seen perching in trees. They are often found on roads at night and have been observed hawking insects with highly maneuverable flight around campfires, artificial lighting and flowering bushes.

Nesting: Sexes are similar. Upper parts are dull brown with off-white speckles. The central crown area is broadly streaked with blackish-brown and edged tawny or buff. There is a broad buffish nuchal collar. The wing-coverts are grayish-brown with off-white speckles, and a boldly spotted buff or pale buff, prominent buffish line along scapulars. They have a buff submoustachial stripe and large white throat patch. The under parts are dull brown spotted with buff, becoming buff barred brown on belly and flanks. Both sexes have large white spot on four outermost primaries but lack white on tail. Irises are dark brown, the bills are dark brown, and the legs and feet are brownish. Immatures are paler than adult, with smaller white spots on outer primaries. Juveniles are more rufous than immatures. Birds become larger and darker in the southern regions of their range.

Breeding season is from August through February, with northern populations breeding earlier than those in the south. They may not breed if the preceding winter was too dry. They usually have a single-brood and are very territorial, often occupying the same territory for several years. The nest-site is a scrape, usually beneath trees or among some stones, and often near hilltops or on ridges. The egg is laid on leaf litter or on the bare soil and is elliptical, glossy, and pale yellowish-green, yellowish-olive or olive-green. It is also lightly spotted and blotched -purplish-brown. Both sexes incubate the egg with the female on the nest during the day with a change-over at nightfall. The incubation period lasts 29–33 days and fledging takes another 30 days

Cool Facts: The song of the male is a rapid series of ascending "whaw" notes followed by bubbling gobbles, it is given from the ground. Alarm calls are deep barks or churrs. Other calls include grunts, gurgles and pops. They make guttural hissing sounds during threat and defense displays. The adults calls to offspring are low grunts, the chick utters soft cheeps and trills.

Found in Songbird ReMix Frogmouths, Nightjars & Goatsuckers

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