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New Caledonian Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles savesi
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Known only from two specimens, one sighting in the 1990s and only three other reports, this very poorly known species is classified as Critically Endangered on the basis of a tiny known population which is presumed to be undergoing a continuing decline.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

28cm. Large, dark owlet-nightjar. Plumage rather uniformly vermiculated grey-brown and black. Structurally distinct with short rounded wings, long, slightly rounded tail and relatively long, stout legs. Similar spp. Only confusable with White-throated Nightjar Eurostopodus mystacalis which has paler plumage on New Caledonia and typical nightjar shape and habits. Voice Unknown. Other congeners have various churring and whistling calls. Hints Check all unknown nocturnal calls, nest-holes and road casualties. Probably sits upright across branches or on the ground, sallying on direct or fluttering flight.

Distribution and population
Aegotheles savesi is endemic to New Caledonia (to France). It is known from a specimen collected in 1880 at Païta, near Nouméa (Layard and Layard 1881), a second specimen dated 1915 recently discovered in an Italian museum (C. Violani in litt. 2000), a possible record from the island of Maré (Macmillan 1939), one found dead (but not retained) in the Tchamba valley in the 1950s (Ekstrom et al. 2000), one shot close to Païta in 1960 (Hannecart and Létocart 1983, Ekstrom et al. 2000) and a sighting in 1998 in the Rivière Ni valley (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Tobias and Ekstrom 2002). Calls similar to those of the allopatric A. cristatus were heard in 1996 and 1998. Given that local people do not know this distinctive species and that there have been no other records from recent surveys, it must occur in very low numbers and/or be restricted to the most remote forest massifs such as Kouakoue (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Tobias and Ekstrom 2002).

Population justification
The population is assumed to be tiny (fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals), with just a single record (in 1998) since 1960.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species.

The records are from Melaleuca savanna and humid forest. The 1998 sighting was of a single bird foraging for insects briefly at dusk, in evergreen riverine forest (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Tobias and Ekstrom 2002). Other owlet-nightjars Aegotheles spp. are territorial and vocal inhabitants of various wooded habitats (Tobias and Ekstrom 2002). They nest and roost in holes in trees and are largely sit-and-wait predators of small animals, foraging from perches or from the ground. A. savesi is larger and has much longer legs than congeners, which may indicate more terrestrial habits (Olson et al. 1987, J. Ekstrom in litt. 1999, Tobias and Ekstrom 2002).

There is no direct information on threats. However, the ecologically similar A. cristatus is believed to suffer high predation rates of both adults and nests (Brigham and Geiser 1997). It seems likely that A. savesi has declined through predation by introduced rats and possibly cats or habitat loss through fire, mining and logging.

Conservation Actions Underway
The 1998 sighting was in the Reserve Speciale de Faune et de Flore de la Ni-Kouakoue. This area receives little conservation management but is very remote and hence affords a degree of protection. Between 2002 and 2007, c.500 person-days in the field yielded no sightings and between 2003 and 2006 120 local interviews received no credible reports. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further intensive field surveys close to the 1998 sighting and on other ultrabasic massifs in the vicinity (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Tobias and Ekstrom 2002), provided these are cost effective and do not detract from the conservation of other Threatened species. Publicise the search for this species amongst forest workers and villagers (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Tobias and Ekstrom 2002) within the "Wanted" campaign, to maximise efficiency of the unofficial observer network. Investigate feasibility and costs of rat control in the Ni-Kouakoue forest. Ensure better protected status for Ni-Kouakoue.

Brigham, R. M.; Geiser, F. 1997. Breeding biology of Australian Owlet-nightjars Aegotheles cristatus in Eucalypt woodland. Emu 97: 316-321.

Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Jones, J. P. G.; Willis, J.; Isherwood, I. 2000. The humid forests of New Caledonia: biological research and conservation recommendations for the vertebrate fauna of Grande Terre. CSB Conservation Publications, Cambridge, U.K.

Hannecart, F.; Létocart, Y. 1983. Oiseaux de Nlle Caledonie et des Loyautés. Cardinalis, Nouméa.

Layard, E. L.; Layard, E. L. C. 1881. Notes on the avifauna of New Caledonia and the New Hebrides. With remarks by the Rev. Canon Tristram. Ibis 4th Ser. Vol. 5: 132-139.

Macmillan, L. 1939. Notes sur les oiseaux des Iles Loyauté 2. Etudes Mélanésiennes: 30-41.

Olson, S. L.; Balouet, C.; Fisher, C. T. 1987. The owlet-night of New Caledonia, Aegotheles savesi, with comments on the systematics of the Aegothelidae. Le Gerfaut 77: 341-352.

Tobias, J. A.; Ekstrom, J. M. M. 2002. The New Caledonian Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles savesi rediscovered? Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 122: 282-285.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A.

Chartendrault, V., Ekstrom, J., Rouys, S., Spaggiari, J., Theuerkauf, J., Violani, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Aegotheles savesi. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - New Caledonian owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles savesi) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Aegothelidae (Owlet-nightjars)
Species name author Layard & Layard, 1881
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 11 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species