Wallace's Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles wallacii


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very large range, and so it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population is suspected to be declining slowly, but is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification

The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as sparsely distributed (Beehler and Pratt 2016), and it has been reported to be easy to see and hear at sites along tributaries of the Elevala River (P. Gregory in litt. 2017).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be slowly declining because of ongoing logging and forest loss across New Guinea (Bryan and Shearman 2015).

Distribution and population

Aegotheles wallacii is known only from New Guinea (Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea). It has been recorded from the Aru islands and Vogelkop in the far west across to Karimui in central Papua New Guinea. It is known from few specimens and few recent observations; the paucity of records largely results from the extremely unobtrusive nature of the genus, and its call was poorly known (Coates 1985, Beehler and Pratt 2016). Several sound recordings of the species have now been made from the southern and northern lowlands (I. Woxvold pers. comm. per G. Dutson in litt. 2016).


It is sparsely distributed in hills, lower montane forest and lowland forest near foothills (Pratt and Beehler 2015) at altitudes from the lowlands to 1,500 m (Beehler and Pratt 2016). 


Although it has an extensive range, some of the forest is threatened by logging and clearance for subsistence gardens (Bryan and Shearman 2015). Owlet-nightjars are hole-nesters which have suffered elsewhere from introduced mammalian predators (Brigham and Geiser 1997).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Use knowledge of its vocalisations to carry out surveys in hill forest within its potential range.


Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Symes, A., Benstead, P., Dutson, G., Westrip, J.

Gregory, P., Woxvold, I., Dutson, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Aegotheles wallacii. Downloaded from on 20/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 20/10/2021.