New Caledonian Owlet-nightjar
05 22 007 Aegotheles savesi
Common Name Enigmatic Owlet-nightjar
Range New Caledonia
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Class Aves
Order Caprimulgiformes
Family Aegothelidae
Genus Aegotheles
Species Aegotheles savesi
Conservation Status
Critically Endangered

The New Caledonian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles savesi), also known as the enigmatic owlet-nightjar, is a species of large owlet-nightjar with vermiculated grey-brown and black plumage. It has a long, slightly rounded tail, short, rounded wings, and long, stout legs. Its voice is unknown but similar birds make churring and whistling sounds. It is much larger than the related Australian owlet-nightjar.

This bird is endemic to New Caledonia’s Melaleuca savanna and humid forests. Other members of its genus are highly territorial and nest in holes in trees. These birds also forage by sitting on a branch and attacking small animals. It is unknown if these habits apply to the New Caledonian owlet-nightjar, but this species is larger and has longer legs than the others, so it may be more terrestrial.

The type specimen was collected from a bird that flew into a bedroom in the village of Tonghoué. This large nightjar is known from two specimens taken in 1880 and 1915 and a couple of sightings. The most recent is from the 1998 expedition which saw a large nightjar foraging for insects at dusk in Rivière Ni Valley. That report, plus noises similar to the genus being heard in 1996 and 1998, lead many [who?] to believe that this species still survives in small numbers.

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