Spangled Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles tatei


Justification of Red List Category
This species is known from limited museum specimens and field reports, and there is no information on its likely distribution extent, population size, trends or threats, although it may be threatened by logging. For these reasons, it is classified as Data Deficient.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as possibly fairly common, although little known (Cleere 1998). Almost all records relating to single individuals, and birds heard less often than the closely-related Feline Owlet-nightjar A. insignis (G. Dutson in litt. 2016).

Trend justification
Logging has taken place within the known range of this species (see Bryan and Shearman 2015), although the rate of forest loss is relatively low (Tracewski et al. unpublished data). Thus the population trend is essentially unknown.

Distribution and population

Aegotheles tatei of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea and Indonesia) is known from an increasing series of records across the southern watershed. Two specimens were taken in 1936 from Palmer Junction close to the Indonesian border and one in 1969 from Nunumai in the far south-east. One was sighted in 1962 at Brown River west of Nunumai (Pratt 2000, T. K. Pratt in litt. 2000). There are a series of recent records at a number of sites close to Kiunga in the Western Province (Verbelen 2014). In 2014, it was found in Indonesian New Guinea, with observations suggesting it may be common along  Kali Muyu river (Verbelen 2014). It was absent from surveyed open swamp forests, Tanah Merah city, and lowland hill forests and around the villages of Mindiptana and Waropko (Verbelen 2014). If tatei proves to be absent from many suitable sites, it may be classified as threatened on the basis of a highly restricted range but given the difficulties of surveying owlet-nightjars, especially given that the call of tatei is unknown, its status is currently uncertain.


All records are from lowland riverine rainforest at 10-125 m, usually close to hills, but it is likely to occur in a wider range of habitats (Beehler and Pratt 2016, I. Woxvold pers. comm. 2016 per G. Dutson in litt. 2016). In Papua New Guinea, it has been recorded in forest that had been logged 10 years previously (I. Woxvold pers. comm. 2016 per G. Dutson in litt. 2016). In Indonesian New Guinea, it was found in old-growth and logged rainforest but absent from open swamp forests and lowland hill forests and around the villages of Mindiptana and Waropko (Verbelen 2014). 


Lowland riverine rainforest has been extensively logged or cleared in New Guinea but large areas still remain intact.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Attempt to establish its call then use playback to survey potentially suitable lowland riverine forest.


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H., Benstead, P., Harding, M., Symes, A., Dutson, G., Westrip, J., North, A., Derhé, M.

Woxvold, I., Bishop, K.D., Pratt, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Aegotheles tatei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/10/2021.