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Nighthawks and nightjars, Caprimulgidae

Order: Caprimulgiformes
Family Caprimulgidae
Subfamily Chordeilinae (New World nighthawks)
Subfamily Caprimulginae (typical nightjars)

The Caprimulgiformes is an order of birds that includes a number of birds with global distribution (except Antarctica).
They are generally insectivorous and nocturnal. The order gets its name from the Latin for "goat-sucker", an old name
based on an erroneous view of the European Nightjar's feeding habits.

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal or crepuscular birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills. They are
sometimes referred to as goatsuckers from the mistaken belief that they suck milk from goats (the Latin for goatsucker
is Caprimulgus). Some New World species are named as nighthawks. Nightjars usually nest on the ground.

Nightjars are found around the world. They are mostly active in the late evening and early morning or at night,
and feed predominantly on moths and other large flying insects.

Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is cryptically coloured to
resemble bark or leaves. Some species, unusual for birds, perch along a branch, rather than across it. This helps to
conceal them during the day. Bracken is their preferred habitat.

The Common Poorwill, Phalaenoptilus nuttallii is unique as a bird that undergoes a form of hibernation, becoming
torpid and with a much reduced body temperature for weeks or months, although other nightjars can enter a state of
torpor for shorter periods.

Nightjars lay one or two patterned eggs directly onto bare ground. It has been suggested that nightjars will move their
eggs and chicks from the nesting site in the event of danger by carrying them in their mouths. This suggestion has been
repeated many times in ornithology books, but while this may accidentally happen, surveys of nightjar research have
found very little evidence to support this idea.

Just to show you how difficult it is to decide in which group to place a bird. This is about the Caprimulgiformes:
"Traditionally, they were regarded, on morphological grounds, as being midway between the owls (Strigiformes) and
the swifts. Like the owls, they are nocturnal hunters with a highly developed sense of sight, and like the swifts they
are excellent flyers with small, weak legs. At one time or another, they have been allied with owls, swifts, kingfishers,
hoopoes, mousebirds, hornbills, rollers, bee-eaters, woodpeckers, trogons and hummingbirds.

Based on analysis of sequence data - notably ß-fibrinogen intron 7 -, Fain & Houde (2004) considered the families
of the Caprimulgiformes to be members of the proposed clade Metaves, which also includes the hoatzin, tropicbirds,
sandgrouse, pigeons, kagu, sunbittern, mesites, flamingos, grebes and swifts and hummingbirds. This clade was also
found by the expanded study of Ericson et al. (2006), but support was extremely weak."
If you wish to get even more confused, keep on reading here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caprimulgiformes

Subfamily Chordeilinae (nighthawks)
Genus Nyctiprogne
  Band-tailed Nighthawk, Nyctiprogne leucopyga
  Plain-tailed Nighthawk, Nyctiprogne vielliardi
Genus Podager
   Nacunda Nighthawk, Podager nacunda
Genus Lurocalis
  Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Lurocalis rufiventris
  Short-tailed Nighthawk, Lurocalis semitorquatus
Genus Chordeiles (5 species)
  Least Nighthawk, Chordeiles pusillus
  Sand-coloured Nighthawk, Chordeiles rupestris
  Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor
  Lesser Nighthawk, Chordeiles acutipennis
  Antillean Nighthawk, Chordeiles gundlachii

Subfamily Caprimulginae (typical nightjars)
Genus Nyctidromus
  Pauraque, Nyctidromus albicollis
Genus Phalaenoptilus
   Common Poorwill, Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
Genus Siphonorhis
  Jamaican Pauraque, Siphonorhis americana -possibly extinct
  Least Pauraque or Least Poorwill, Siphonorhis brewsteri
Genus Nyctiphrynus
  Eared Poorwill, Nyctiphrynus mcleodii
  Ocellated Poorwill, Nyctiphrynus ocellatus
  Chocó Poorwill, Nyctiphrynus rosenbergi
  Yucatan Poorwill, Nyctiphrynus yucatanicus
Genus Caprimulgus (some 50-60 species, incl. the European Nightjar)
Genus Macrodipteryx - Long-primaried nightjars
  Standard-winged Nightjar, Macrodipteryx longipennis
  Pennant-winged Nightjar, Macrodipteryx vexillarius
Genus Hydropsalis
  Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Hydropsalis climacocerca
  Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Hydropsalis torquata
Genus Uropsalis
  Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Uropsalis lyra
  Swallow-tailed Nightjar, Uropsalis segmentata
Genus Macropsalis
  Long-trained Nightjar, Macropsalis creagra
Genus Eleothreptus
  Sickle-winged Nightjar, Eleothreptus anomalus
White-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus candicans)
(aka Eleothreptus candicans)


English Norsk Latin
Egyptian Nightjar Ørkennattravn Caprimulgus aegyptius
Savanna Nightjar Gressnattravn Caprimulgus affinis
Andaman Nightjar Andamannattravn Caprimulgus andamanicus
Scrub Nightjar Krattnattravn Caprimulgus anthonyi
Indian Nightjar Bengalnattravn Caprimulgus asiaticus
Jerdon's Nightjar Yamanattravn Caprimulgus atripennis
Yucatan Nightjar Mayanattravn Caprimulgus badius
Bates' Nightjar Kongonattravn Caprimulgus batesi
Brown Nightjar Brunnattravn Caprimulgus binotatus
White-winged Nightjar Hvitvingenattravn Caprimulgus candicans
Chuck-will's-widow Karolinanattravn Caprimulgus carolinensis
White-tailed Nightjar Hvithalenattravn Caprimulgus cayennensis
Sulawesi Nightjar Sulawesinattravn Caprimulgus celebensis
Vaurie's Nightjar Tarimnattravn Caprimulgus centralasicus
Slender-tailed Nightjar Kilehalenattravn Caprimulgus clarus
Long-tailed Nightjar Langhalenattravn Caprimulgus climacurus
Bonaparte's Nightjar Sundanattravn Caprimulgus concretus
Greater Antillean Nightjar Kubanattravn Caprimulgus cubanensis
Donaldson-Smith's Nightjar Tornnattravn Caprimulgus donaldsoni
Hispaniolan Nightjar Hispaniolanattravn Caprimulgus ekmani
Collared Nightjar Kragenattravn Caprimulgus enarratus
Eurasian Nightjar Nattravn Caprimulgus europaeus
Golden Nightjar Gullnattravn Caprimulgus eximius
Square-tailed Nightjar Bantunattravn Caprimulgus fossii
Sombre Nightjar Busknattravn Caprimulgus fraenatus
Pygmy Nightjar Pygmènattravn Caprimulgus hirundinaceus
Grey (Jungle) Nightjar Orientnattravn Caprimulgus indicus
Plain Nightjar Sahelnattravn Caprimulgus inornatus
Band-winged Nightjar Glennenattravn Caprimulgus longirostris
Large-tailed Nightjar Hamrenattravn Caprimulgus macrurus
Spot-tailed Nightjar Flekkhalenattravn Caprimulgus maculicaudus
Cayenne Nightjar Guyananattravn Caprimulgus maculosus
Madagascar Nightjar Madagaskarnattravn Caprimulgus madagascariensis
Sykes' Nightjar Sindnattravn Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Philippine Nightjar Filippinernattravn Caprimulgus manillensis
Mees's Nightjar Floresnattravn Caprimulgus meesi
Swamp Nightjar Sumpnattravn Caprimulgus natalensis
Blackish Nightjar Sotnattravn Caprimulgus nigrescens
Black-shouldered Nightjar Svartflekknattravn Caprimulgus nigriscapularis
Puerto Rican Nightjar Puertoriconattravn Caprimulgus noctitherus
Nubian Nightjar Nubianattravn Caprimulgus nubicus
Little Nightjar Smånattravn Caprimulgus parvulus
Fiery-necked Nightjar Ildnakkenattravn Caprimulgus pectoralis
Abyssinian (Montane) Nightjar Fjellnattravn Caprimulgus poliocephalus
Itombwe (Prigogine’s) Nightjar Kivunattravn Caprimulgus prigoginei
Salvadori's Nightjar Klippenattravn Caprimulgus pulchellus
Buff-collared Nightjar Mexiconattravn Caprimulgus ridgwayi
Red-necked Nightjar Rødhalsnattravn Caprimulgus ruficollis
Rufous-cheeked Nightjar Rustkinnattravn Caprimulgus rufigena
Rufous Nightjar Rustnattravn Caprimulgus rufus
Montane (Ruwenzori) Nightjar Ruwenzorinattravn Caprimulgus ruwenzorii
Tawny-collared Nightjar Rustnakkenattravn Caprimulgus salvini
Dusky Nightjar Costaricanattravn Caprimulgus saturatus
Silky-tailed Nightjar Silkestjertnattravn Caprimulgus sericocaudatus
Nechisar Nighjar Nechisarnattravn Caprimulgus solala
Star-spotted Nightjar Stjernenattravn Caprimulgus stellatus
Freckled Nightjar Fregnenattravn Caprimulgus tristigma
Whip-poor-will Eikenattravn Caprimulgus vociferus
Roraiman Nightjar Tepuinattravn Caprimulgus whitelyi

Lesser Nighthawk, Chordelies acutipennis

Lesser Nighthawk, Chordelies acutipennis, at La Ensenada, Costa Rica
Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

The Lesser Nighthawk, Chordeiles acutipennis, is a nightjar found throughout a large part of the Americas.

The adults are dark with brown, grey and white patterning on the upperparts and breast; the long upperwings are black
and show a white bar in flight. The tail is dark with white barring; the underparts are buffy with fine black horizontal
streaking. The adult male has a white throat; the female has a light brown throat. This bird looks similar to the Common
Nighthawk, but is slightly smaller, has a slightly less deeply forked tail, and is more buffy in coloration. The calls are also
completely different. The Lesser Nighthawk has a rapid, low whistled melodious trill, lasting several seconds.
It is usually heard only near breeding areas.

Their breeding habitat is open country from southwest United States through Central America to tropical South America.
They usually nest on bare ground, sometimes in raised locations including stumps and boulders or flat house roofs.
The two eggs are laid directly on bare ground--there is no nest. Incubation is performed largely by the female and
lasts for about 20 days. Young fledge at about 20 days of age. Adults flushed from the nest may try to distract the
intruder or defend the nest site by aerial attack. Young birds sometimes perform a defense display by opening up their
mouths and spreading their wings, looking to appear threatening and looking larger than they actually are before
they run off.

These birds are partial migrants. The Lesser Nighthawk retreats from the United States and northern Mexico during
the winter months. Occasionally single birds may be found overwintering. The nighthawk is also occasionally found
as a vagrant to the US Gulf Coast states to Florida.

They catch flying insects on the wing, mainly foraging near dawn and dusk (crepuscular), sometimes at night with
a full moon or near street lighting.


Standard-winged Nightjar, Macrodipteryx longipennis

Male Standard-winged Nightjar, Macrodipteryx longipennis. Comoé Nat. Park, Ivory Coast.
Photo: Jan Steffen

Remember, those birds are night-birds, so pictures often have to be taken in the dark.

The Standard-winged Nightjar, Macrodipteryx longipennis, is a bird in the nightjar family.
It is a resident breeder in Africa from Senegal east to Ethiopia. It is found in dry savannah habitats, with some scrub.

The adult male has a bizarre wing ornament during the breeding season, with a broad central flight feather on each wing
elongated to 38 cm, much longer than the bird's body. 20 cm or more of this is bare shaft. In normal flight, these
feathers trail behind, but in display flight they are raised vertically like standards. Outside the breeding season,
there are no plumage distinctions between the male and female.

Standard-winged Nightjar.
Thanks to C Mathiessen and Rockjumper Birding Tours.gif

When roosting on the ground during the day, this medium-sized (20–23 cm long) nightjar is mainly variegated grey,
with a browner collar. It is a shadowy form with easy, silent moth-like flight; this nightjar is relatively short-tailed, and
lacks white in the wings or tail. The song is a churring trill.

Like other nightjars, the Standard-winged Nightjar feeds on insects in flight, the huge gape opening wide for moths
and beetles. It flies at dusk, most often at sundown, and can sometimes be seen with Flying Foxes.

No nest is made; the two elongated and elliptical eggs are placed upon the bare ground.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard-winged_Nightjar

Blackish Nightjar, Caprimulgus nigrescens

Blackish Nightjar, Caprimulgus nigrescens, Mato Grosso Brazil, 2006
Blackish Nightjar do not build a nest but lay their single egg on bare ground,
leaf litter or a depression in granite rock
© www.arthurgrosset.com

The Blackish Nightjar, Caprimulgus nigrescens, is a species of bird in the Caprimulgidae family. This relatively small dark
nightjar is found in the Guianas and the Amazon. It is rare or even absent in the western part, but is among the commonest
nightjars in the eastern Amazon and the Guianas.

Eggs are laid in a slight depression of the bare granite rock, exposed to full sunshine or on litter of dead plant material
near vegetation, shaded by overhanging branches. Their eggs are laid on the ground. Clutches consist of I or 2 eggs
incubated by male and female, and both care for the young. Fledging is estimated at 14 days, young leave the nest site
within 16-18 days. Eggs are cryptically colored and slightly glossy, with a creamish to pinkish buff ground color and
brown spots overlaying brownish spots and blotches. At hatching, the semiprecocial young have open eyes and are
covered with cryptically colored down. Both on open granite rock and on litter, they blend well with their surrounding.
During brooding injury-feigning displays are given readily; the parents grovel on the ground with drooping wings trying
to lure the intruder away from the egg or young.

During daylight hours, they roost on the ground or low in vegetation, often in open situations exposed to full sunshine.
During twilight and nighttime hours they become active, feeding entirely on night-flying insects. Forages over rocky
outcrops and above tree canopy.
Source: http://www.surinambirds.com/caprimulgiformes-caprimulgidae-blackish-nightjar-caprimulgus-nigrescens


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