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White-throated nightjar

Common name: white-throated nightjar

Species name: Eurostopodus mystacalis

Family: Eurostopodidae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Least Concern in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and it is ranked as a low priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.

Description

Of Australia's three nightjar species, the white-throated nightjar is the biggest and darkest. Its streaked feathers - black, brown, fawn and grey, with just a small area of white on the throat enables it to blend in well with leaves and twigs as it rests on the ground during the day. White-throated nightjars have a black bill, brown eyes and are 30-35 cm in length.

Habitat and distribution

Though rarely seen, the white-throated nightar is common in the forests and woodlands of eastern Australia's coastal ranges, from central Queensland to Melbourne.

Life history and behaviour

Heard but not often seen - that's how it is with many Australian nocturnal birds. The white-throated nightjar’s call is a rising ‘whook whook whook’ accelerating to ‘laughter’ and also a low crooning.

The nightjar comes out at night (and occasionally during the day) to feed on insects close to the ground. Look for them feeding on insects in campsites or along quiet country roads.

White-throated nightjars breed between October and December, but breeding may occur in September and January if conditions are favourable. White-throated nightjars normally lay a single egg on the ground in leaf litter, stones and bark – no real nest is made. Both parents incubate the egg and care for the chick, with fledging occurring at just over four weeks old.

Related information

Pizzey G and Knight F 1997. The field guide to the birds of Australia. Harper Collins Publishers, Sydney.

Simpson K and Day N 2010. Field guide to the birds of Australia 8th Edition. Viking Australia.

Listen

Listen to an audio clip of the white-throated nightjar (MP3 audio file, 128K)†

† Requires an appropriate media player

Last reviewed
25 May 2016
Last updated
11 October 2011