Find out how the Australian owlet-nightjar is faring post-bushfire

Find out how the Australian owlet-nightjar is faring post-bushfire

Learn about SA’s less­er-known bush­fire-affect­ed crea­tures. Here’s how the Aussie owlet-night­jar is faring.

Did you know that since the 2019 – 20 sum­mer bush­fires, exten­sive wildlife mon­i­tor­ing is under­way on Kan­ga­roo Island?

Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice South Aus­tralia is using motion sen­sor-acti­vat­ed cam­eras for sur­veys, which help its rangers and ecol­o­gists bet­ter under­stand which native and fer­al ani­mals live in, or pass through, the bush­fire-affect­ed area of the island.

Not only do the cam­eras help the team learn about the com­mon species or those active dur­ing the day, but they also cap­ture many noc­tur­nal and cryp­tic species – like the Aus­tralian owlet-nightjar.

The Aus­tralian owlet-night­jar is the small­est Aussie noc­tur­nal bird and is com­mon across Aus­tralia. It has large brown eyes and a broad bill sur­round­ed by stiff bris­tles that help guide insects into their mouth.

What does the mon­i­tor­ing reveal about the species?

Pri­or to the 2019 – 20 bush­fires on Kan­ga­roo Island, there have been only 20 records of the owlet-night­jar on the island, with 18 of them from the west­ern end.

Night­jars are usu­al­ly only detect­ed by hear­ing their call at night, and occa­sion­al­ly dur­ing day­light hours, but very few peo­ple recog­nise them.

The motion-sens­ing cam­eras have recent­ly snapped pic­tures of Aus­tralian owlet-night­jars at two sites in Flinders Chase Nation­al Park, on the west­ern end of the island. These records are the first for­mal ones on the island for 15 years.

How is the species far­ing post-bushfire?

The 2019 – 20 sum­mer bush­fires severe­ly affect­ed the night­jar habi­tat on Kan­ga­roo Island, with many old and hol­low-bear­ing trees burnt in the sum­mer bush­fires. How­ev­er, fire can also cre­ate new hollows.

The KI Aus­tralian owlet-night­jar pop­u­la­tion is expect­ed to recov­er as the habi­tat recovers.

What else is being done to help recovery?

As with the recov­ery efforts in the bush­fire-affect­ed Ade­laide Hills, the recov­ery of the envi­ron­ment on Kan­ga­roo Island will take time and plen­ty of hard work, but it’s been a col­lab­o­ra­tive endeav­our, with all lev­els of gov­ern­ment as well as local experts, non-gov­ern­ment organ­i­sa­tions, land­hold­ers and the com­mu­ni­ty deliv­er­ing help in a coor­di­nat­ed way.

Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice South Aus­tralia, the Kan­ga­roo Island Land­scape Board and the Hills and Fleurieu Land­scape Board have tak­en a num­ber of actions to sup­port native wildlife recov­ery in part­ner­ship with wildlife groups, con­ser­va­tion organ­i­sa­tions, land­hold­ers and communities.

These actions include:

  • on-ground assess­ments and pop­u­la­tion counts
  • a dig­i­tal cit­i­zen sci­en­tist program
  • giv­ing nature time and space
  • fer­al ani­mal control
  • translo­ca­tion of koalas to Cle­land Wildlife Park
  • plant­i­ngs in bush­fire zones
  • estab­lish­ing a Wildlife Recov­ery Fund
  • cre­at­ing a Wildlife and Habi­tat Bush­fire Recov­ery Taskforce
  • devel­op­ing a statewide Wildlife and Habi­tat Bush­fire Recov­ery Plan.

Learn more in our sto­ry: 6 months on: How South Australia’s bush­fire-affect­ed wildlife is recovering

Do you want to learn more about how SA’s wildlife is recov­er­ing post-bush­fires? Read about theKan­ga­roo Island dun­nartor theglossy black-cock­a­too.

(Main image cour­tesy of Richard Crook)

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living