Measuring just 23cm long, the Australian Owlet-nightjar is Australia’s smallest nocturnal bird. They are more often heard than seen as their mournful, repetitive cry can be heard at night in the bush, especially during nesting season.
Recently WIRES volunteer Deb had two of these birds come into care within a week of each other.
The first to come into care was an adult rescued from a cat by a member of the public. If a bird is a victim of a cat attack they need antibiotics as fast as possible as the bacteria on the cats claws will cause infection, ultimately leading to the death of the bird a few days later. This little adult was lucky, WIRES was contacted straight away, and for a five day period was treated with antibiotics.
Although ‘Little Mouse’ ( as she was called by her WIRES carer) was content with her diet of mealworms and insectipro balls whilst in care, she was more than happy to return to her home in the bush.
Within the week a fledging Owlet-nightjar came into care. She had trundled her way up to a member of the publics front door, she was not yet at the self-feeding stage, and locating her family was not possible.
She was examined by Dr Bree at the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital and was found to have no injuries.
Named ‘Moth’ by her WIRES carer, she was the sweetest little bird and quickly learned that the mealworms in her hospital cage was quite tasty, learning to self-feed took no time at all.
As suitable habitat diminish you can help these birds survive into the future. Owlet-nightjars readily nest and raise their young in nest boxes that specifically meet their needs. Habitat where they may be found is almost any tree-studded area with suitable hollows. In urban areas they are more likely to be found in areas with remnant bush nearby.
WIRES volunteer Deb, carer of Little Mouse and Moth has an Owlet-nightjar nest box in her backyard, and last year four little Owlet-nightjars were successfully raised by the parent birds from that nest box.