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The Bristly Goatsucker returns

July 16, 2014

_MG_7059As bird names go, the Australian Owlet-nightjar is a bit of a mouthful. However, I think it is far more preferable than its scientific name, Aegotheles cristatus, which translated from Greek and Latin means Bristly Goatsucker: aigo is Greek for goat, thelazo is Greek for to suckle and cristatus is Latin for crested. The scientific name is derived from the legend that this bird at night suckles from she-goats. The ‘bristly’ part of the name refers to the hairs that stick out from the top of the beak — see photo left.

Anyway, over the past few years an owlet-nightjar has been one of the regular tenants in the nestbox situated in a tree next to our deck. For the past nine months the box has been untenanted and then last week the Bristly Goatsucker returned. The breeding season is between August and December. We hope the bird has moved in to start a family.

DSCN8917The Australian Owlet-nightjar is the only owlet-nightjar species in Australia. It is extremely inquisitive and none too scared. Any noise we make outside the nestbox, like visiting the wood stash, results in the bird sticking its glider-looking head outside the box for a sticky-beak (pictured right).

We don’t know how long it will stay this time. If previous visits are any indication, not long. But we always know that they are around by the characteristic ‘churring’ courtship call we hear during the dark hours – the name nightjar is said to originate from this sound, as in night-churr.

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