The night heron roosts conspicuously in trees near water. At Villa Pepita we regularly see it by the creek at the entrance where it hunts for insects at dusk.
The pauraques' calls are probably the most common sounds next to grasshoppers at night - this is certainly true for Villa Pepita, and maybe even for any other tropical stretch in the New World. It enjoys resting on roads at night. This is its distinctive sound that accompanies you falling asleep in the Llanos.
The rodent hunter can be seen perching on trees and watching over open areas along the piedemonte llanero in the east as well as in the Santa Marta area of Colombia. High calls, dog like barks and whistled calls. About 38 cm high.
Common in forest edge and Colombia's most seen screech-owl, this 23 cm owl has a disctinctive call: c'r'r'r'r-cu-CU - a sound we are all too familiar with here at Villa Pepita as it accompanies us during dinners.
This screech owl prefers forest edge and is difficult to observe albeit often heard. Its call is a song, fast, steady hooted thrill, fading a little towards the end, >5 sec.
The most 'classical' owl from our list is Colombia's lrgest owl (55 cm) and local in the Llanos. The nocturnal bird takes medium-sized prey, mammals and other birds. Its calls are a series of deep hoots.
As if this 16 cm short owl was not cute enough, it also regularly suffers mobbing from passerines. It is fairly common in semi-open areas and forest edge in the Llanos. Song is a steady du, du, du up to 1 minute. It hunts during twilight and even during the day.
This curious bird is a regular at Villa Pepita and its spooky calls can be heard throughout the night. Sometimes in couples they sit on dead tree trunks and watch over the open grassland. With its 55cm it is the greatest potoo of the five genus of potoo that inhabit Colombia and fairly common along the piedemonte llanero (Andean foothills) and in the Amazonas.
The potoo may as well be the world's greatest master of camouflage. The strictly nocturnal bird spends its days pretending to be the end of a dead branch. At night you are likely to hear its equally curious and beautifully melancholic call: hu-oo-oo-uu (click to listen)
There are a number of nighthawks in the Llanos, too. Much like the paraque (above) these small nocturnal birds enjoy resting on roads and treks at night and the driveway up to Villa Pepita is no exception. The most common night hawk we see is the Least Nighthawk (photo), with 15 cm the smallest of its family. Other species in los Llanos are the Lesser Nighthawk, Common Nighthawk, Nacunda Nighthawk, Short-Tailed Nighthawk, Band-Tailed Nighthawk.
There are various nightjars in the Llanos such as three species of pale nightjars with a fork tail (hydropsalis) at about 20 cm and the much larger rufous nightjar (antrostomus rufus, photo above) at about 28 cm. They are understood to sing a melodic 'Chuck-Will's-Wi-dow' (listen here) and can be heard occasionally at Villa Pepita.
Short-Eared Owl (asio flammeus)
This 40 cm high bird is not exactly nocturnal but crepuscular and even diurnal. We still though it belongs into this owl dominated list. It is commonly seen in open grassy areas, which the Llanos have plenty of.
Burrowing Owl (athene cunicularia)
Crepuscular and diurnal the burrowing owl (23 cm) is usually seen in pairs and breeds in burrows. There are always plenty in the open savannas at our Finca La Independencia. They are great shooting stars as each owl has their very own facial expression, some grumpy, others curious, some angry, others sceptic... great for portraits!
Also see our diurnal list of birds.