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Australian owlet-nightjar, Aegotheles cristatus

elar (inh -)
nyirrka (minha -)
in Uw Oykangand and Uw Olkola
in Pakanh


The Australian owlet-nightjar, Aegotheles cristatus (family Aegothelidae), also called "mopoke" and "owl" locally, is an active noctural bird with short wings and a long tail. It feeds on the wing at night, like a nightjar. It occurs in reddish and grey phases.

This bird is very important in central Cape York traditional custom since it is the totem of one of the moieties. The totem of the other moiety is akabakab (nightjar, Caprimulgus spp.). When a dead owlet-nightjar was presented to one of the Kowanyama Olkola elders, he referred to it as a "messenger."

e-mail: Philip Hamilton.