Caprimulgidae – Nightjars & Nighthawks
The Caprimulgidae or nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal or crepuscular family characterised by long wings, short legs and very short bills. They are sometimes called goatsuckers, due to the ancient folk tale that they sucked the milk from goats (the Latin for goatsucker is Caprimulgus). Some New World species are called nighthawks, poorwills and etc.. Nightjars usually nest on the ground. The English word ‘nightjar’ originally referred to the European nightjar.
They 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.
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.
According to the IOC there are 98 species of Poorwills, Nightjars & Nighthawks & allies currently recognised in the family Caprimulgidae; they are:
Spotted Nightjar Eurostopodus argus
White-throated Nightjar Eurostopodus mystacalis
Solomons Nightjar Eurostopodus nigripennis
New Caledonian Nightjar Eurostopodus exul
Satanic Nightjar Eurostopodus diabolicus
Papuan Nightjar Eurostopodus papuensis
Archbold’s Nightjar Eurostopodus archboldi
Malaysian Eared Nightjar Lyncornis temminckii
Great Eared Nightjar Lyncornis macrotis
Collared Nightjar Gactornis enarratus
Nacunda Nighthawk Chordeiles nacunda
Least Nighthawk Chordeiles pusillus
Sand-colored Nighthawk Chordeiles rupestris
Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor
Antillean Nighthawk Chordeiles gundlachii
Short-tailed Nighthawk Lurocalis semitorquatus
Rufous-bellied Nighthawk Lurocalis rufiventris
Band-tailed Nighthawk Nyctiprogne leucopyga
Plain-tailed Nighthawk Nyctiprogne vielliardi
Blackish Nightjar Nyctipolus nigrescens
Pygmy Nightjar Nyctipolus hirundinaceus
Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis
Anthony’s Nightjar Nyctidromus anthonyi
Todd’s Nightjar Setopagis heterura
Little Nightjar Setopagis parvula
Roraiman Nightjar Setopagis whitelyi
Cayenne Nightjar Setopagis maculosa
Sickle-winged Nightjar Eleothreptus anomalus
White-winged Nightjar Eleothreptus candicans
Band-winged Nightjar Systellura longirostris
Tschudi’s Nightjar Systellura decussata
Swallow-tailed Nightjar Uropsalis segmentata
Lyre-tailed Nightjar Uropsalis lyra
White-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis cayennensis
Spot-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis maculicaudus
Ladder-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis climacocerca
Scissor-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis torquata
Long-trained Nightjar Macropsalis forcipata
Least Poorwill Siphonorhis brewsteri
Choco Poorwill Nyctiphrynus rosenbergi
Eared Poorwill Nyctiphrynus mcleodii
Yucatan Poorwill Nyctiphrynus yucatanicus
Ocellated Poorwill Nyctiphrynus ocellatus
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
Chuck-will’s-widow Antrostomus carolinensis
Rufous Nightjar Antrostomus rufus
Cuban Nightjar Antrostomus cubanensis
Hispaniolan Nightjar Antrostomus ekmani
Tawny-collared Nightjar Antrostomus salvini
Yucatan Nightjar Antrostomus badius
Silky-tailed Nightjar Antrostomus sericocaudatus
Buff-collared Nightjar Antrostomus ridgwayi
Eastern Whip-poor-will Antrostomus vociferus
Mexican Whip-poor-will Antrostomus arizonae
Puerto Rican Nightjar Antrostomus noctitherus
Dusky Nightjar Antrostomus saturatus
Brown Nightjar Veles binotatus
Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis
Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka
Palau Nightjar Caprimulgus phalaena
European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus
Sombre Nightjar Caprimulgus fraenatus
Rufous-cheeked Nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius
Sykes’s Nightjar Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Vaurie’s Nightjar Caprimulgus centralasicus
Nubian Nightjar Caprimulgus nubicus
Golden Nightjar Caprimulgus eximius
Jerdon’s Nightjar Caprimulgus atripennis
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
Mees’s Nightjar Caprimulgus meesi
Andaman Nightjar Caprimulgus andamanicus
Philippine Nightjar Caprimulgus manillensis
Sulawesi Nightjar Caprimulgus celebensis
Donaldson Smith’s Nightjar Caprimulgus donaldsoni
Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis
Fiery-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus pectoralis
Montane Nightjar Caprimulgus poliocephalus
Ruwenzori Nightjar Caprimulgus ruwenzorii
Indian Nightjar Caprimulgus asiaticus
Madagascan Nightjar Caprimulgus madagascariensis
Swamp Nightjar Caprimulgus natalensis
Nechisar Nightjar Caprimulgus solala
Plain Nightjar Caprimulgus inornatus
Star-spotted Nightjar Caprimulgus stellatus
Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis
Freckled Nightjar Caprimulgus tristigma
Bonaparte’s Nightjar Caprimulgus concretus
Salvadori’s Nightjar Caprimulgus pulchellus
Prigogine’s Nightjar Caprimulgus prigoginei
Bates’s Nightjar Caprimulgus batesi
Long-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus climacurus
Slender-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus clarus
Square-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus fossii
Standard-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus longipennis
Pennant-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus vexillarius
Blackish Nightjar Caprimulgus nigrescensBirdLife Species AccountFull species account…
Blackish Nightjar Caprimulgus nigrescensCornell Species AccountBlackish Nightjar is a relatively small dark nightjar, well named for its predominantly blackish plumage; this coloration provides good camouflage against this nightjar's preferred microhabitat of granite rock outcroppings in forest clearings and along trails.
Blackish Nightjar Caprimulgus nigrescensHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Caprimulgus nigrescens Cabanis, 1848, lower Essequibo River, Guyana.
Blackish Nightjar Caprimulgus nigrescensSpecies AccountThe blackish nightjar (Nyctipolus 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.
Blackish Nightjar Caprimulgus nigrescensIUCN Species Status
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minorBirdLife Species Account
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minorHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Caprimulgus minor J. R. Forster, 1771, no locality = South Carolina, USA.
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minorIUCN Species Status
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minorSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minorCornell Species AccountAlthough arguably the most studied nightjar in North America and one of the best known in the world, the Common Nighthawk remains poorly understood.
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minorSpecies AccountThe common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is a medium-sized  crepuscular or nocturnal bird within the nightjar family, whose presence and identity are best revealed by its vocalization.
Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollisBirdLife Species Account
Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollisHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Caprimulgus albicollis J. F. Gmelin, 1789, Cayenne.Recent phylogenetic study showed this species to be sister to N. anthonyi. Race intercedens rather poorly differentiated, often synonymized with nominate. Similarly, insularis perhaps better subsumed within yucatanensis. Seven subspecies currently recognized.
Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollisSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollisSpecies AccountThe pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis) – also called the common pauraque to distinguish it from similar species – is a nightjar species, one of two birds in the genus Nyctidromus.
Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollisCornell Species AccountThe Common Pauraque is a distinctive nightjar of open woodland and scrub, including around human habitation.
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttalliiSpecies AccountThe common poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) is a nocturnal bird of the family Caprimulgidae, the nightjars. It is found from British Columbia and southeastern Alberta, through the western United States to northern Mexico. The bird's habitat is dry, open areas with grasses or shrubs, and even stony desert slopes with very little vegetation.
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttalliiCornell Species AccountThe Common Poorwill, noted for its distinctive call and its ability to enter a state of deep daily torpor under natural and laboratory conditions, is the only bird known to spend long periods during winter completely inactive.
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttalliiHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Caprimulgus Nuttallii Audubon, 1844, upper Missouri between Fort Pierre and mouth of the Cheyenne River, South Dakota, USA.
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttalliiSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Common Poorwill Phalaenoptilus nuttalliiBirdLife Species Account
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptiusBirdLife Species Account
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptiusHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Caprimulgus aegyptius M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823, upper Egypt. Asian populations (E of Syria) sometimes separated as race arenicolor, but variation is clinal, birds increasing in size towards E. Two subspecies recognized.
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptiusIUCN Species Status
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptiusSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptiusSpecies AccountThe Egyptian nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius) is a medium-small nightjar which occurs in south west Asia and north Africa and winters in tropical Africa.
Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicusBirdLife Species Account
Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicusHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Caprimulgus indicus Latham, 1790, India.
Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicusIUCN Species Status
Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicusSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Jungle Nightjar Caprimulgus indicusSpecies AccountThe jungle nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus) is a species of nightjar found in India and Sri Lanka. It is found mainly on the edge of forests where it is seen or heard at dusk. The taxonomy of this and related nightjars is complex and a range of treatments have been followed that cover this and several other nightjars in the Asian region. It was formerly called the grey nightjar or Indian jungle nightjar and sometimes included the East Asian grey nightjar (C. jotaka) as a subspecies.
White-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus candicansBirdLife Species Account
White-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus candicansHBW Species AccountTaxonomy: Stenopsis candicans Pelzeln, 1867, Irisanga, São Paulo, Brazil.
White-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus candicansIUCN Species Status
White-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus candicansSpecies AccountThe white-winged nightjar (Eleothreptus candicans) is a species of nightjar in the Caprimulgidae family native to Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay, where it lives in open grassland with scattered trees.
Number of bird species: 98
A Guide to Nightjars, Nighthawks, and Their Relativesby Nigel Cleere & Illustration by Dave Nurney Pica press 1998 Hardback ISBN: 1873403488 Buy this book from NHBS.com
A Sound Guide to Nightjars and Related NightbirdsCompiled by Richard Ranft. The British Library National Sound Archive. Consultant Nigel Cleere. In case of difficulty in obtaining copies in the U.K. apply to:Pica Press, The Banks, Mountfield, Nr. Robertsbridge, East Sussex TN32 5JY,and in the U.S.A. to: Yale University Press, P.O. Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040 ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
Nightjars & their Alliesby D T Holyoak [Illustrated by Martin Woodcock] OUP 2001 ISBN: 0198549873 Buy this book from NHBS.com
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Genus changes in Nightjars and AlliesWebsiteA review of the taxonomy and systematics of Nightjars