The Spotted nightjar inhabits most of mainland Australia. Its natural habitat includes open forests and woodlands, scrub, spinifex, and grassland.
They are larger and more colourful than other species of nightjar and are known for their freckled patterns which help them camouflage well against the ground. Adult spotted nightjars have large white spots on four outer primary feathers, unlike the tropical large-tailed nightjar which have white tail markings.
Spotted nightjars are insectivores, they often hunt 20-30 meters above the ground. The species are observed drinking water by skimming the top of lakes and water holes.
Breeding usually takes place between September and December. In central Australia, seasons are less clearly defined, such that breeding tends to occur after significant rainfall. Adults do not tend to build nests. Instead, they lay a single pale green egg with purple or brown blotches on the ground among leaves, twigs, or grass.
Paige Kirby – Biodiversity Trainee
Title photo: Christopher Watson, 2013