Bird Families

Lesser Nightjar / Setopagis parvula


Nightjars or night owls are small birds with soft, friable, dull gray-dusty, brownish-reddish or sandy-buffy plumage, with a small beak, but a very large mouth, with strongly developed bristles along the edges of the mouth. Legs small with long middle and very short lateral front toes; the claw of the middle toe is serrated along the inner edge. The wing and tail are very long.

Common nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (Caprimulgus europeus)

The color of the nightjar is rather dark, ocher-grayish-brown. The dark gray background is finely streaked with dark brown lines and specks, on the upper part of the head there are blackish wide longitudinal spots, also on the shoulder, nape, neck and wing coverts there are reddish-buffy dull spots, the upper tail coverts are transversely streaked with dark, the throat is black-brown, narrowly transversely striped with red and with a white spot on the sides, belly, underwing and undertail of buffy-red with black-brown transverse stripes, less clear on the underside of the wings and undertail. Primary flight feathers are blackish, mottled with reddish buffy.

In the male, the flight feathers also have a large white spot on the inner webs, and the two extreme pairs of tail feathers have a large white apex. In females and juveniles, these white spots on the arms and rudders are replaced by dirty buffy ones.

The eye and beak are black-brown, the legs are reddish-brown.

Coloring is very variable in each locality, in addition, there are several local races, differing in shades and sizes and not everywhere sharply demarcated geographically.

The common nightjar nests from the extreme west of Europe and Africa (Morocco) to Lake Baikal and the central parts of Vost. Mongolia (r. Tola) and Gobi, and in some individuals it was found even in Dauria. To the north it goes up to 64 ° N. sh. in Scandinavia, 63 ° in Finland, in the southern parts of Karelia, up to about 60 ° in the Urals and up to the regions of Tyumen, Tomsk, Yeniseisk, Irkutsk. To the south, breeds in northwestern Africa, Algeria, and Tunisia, in Asia Minor and southwestern Asia to northwestern India inclusive.

European nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus europaeus

The European nightjar is distinguished by a relatively dark brownish tone of coloration on top, with wide and sharp, dark trunk stripes, especially on the shoulders, the dark pattern of the underside of the body and tail feathers is sharp, the undertail is very reddish, a white spot of the inner fan of the first m, the achovy in the male more or less round and does not reach the shaft or barely touches it, the same spot of the second flight feather does not pass, less often slightly passes to the outer fan, the white end of the extreme pair of rudders is about in length, in females the first ocher spot from the top of the inner fan and flight feathers differs little from ( The next spots.

The wing in females and grown young from 18.25 cm, the tail near the metatarsus is feathered by half or 2/3 of the length (bare part near the beak Weight about

The European nightjar nests in Europe to the south, including France, northern Italy, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine up to Poltava region inclusive, the middle Volga region, to the east to both slopes of the Urals (and the Turgai steppes - P.P. Sushkin) and to some extent even to the Ob ( unless a comparison of large series makes us distinguish the birds of the European part of the Union and the Trans-Urals by their slightly paler tone, as a special race).

Winters in Africa, mainly southern and eastern.

Southern nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus meridionals (Caprimulgus europaeus meridionalis)

The color of the southern nightjar is the same or slightly lighter - and also fluctuates - as in the previous subspecies, in smaller sizes (as is very often observed in southern individuals of many bird species): the wing of an adult male is rarely up to 19 cm.However, in Crimean specimens, sometimes up to 20 cm as measured by Professor I. I. Puzanov.

Breeds in the Mediterranean region: in northwestern Africa and to the north including the Iberian, Apennine and Balkan peninsulas, part of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania, Crimea, the Caucasus, the mountains of Armenia and the Caspian provinces of Iran to the southeastern corner of the Caspian Sea, Asia Minor.

Birds of Crimea

  • Tags
  • Birds starting with the letter K
Latin name:Caprimulgus
English name:Caprimulgiformes
A type:Chordates
Family:To be specified
Genus:To be specified
Body length:24.5-28 cm
Wing length:To be specified
Wingspan:52-59 cm
Weight:51-101 g
  • 1 Description of the bird
  • 2 Nutritional features of the nightjar
  • 3 Bird distribution
  • 4 Common types of nightjar
    • 4.1 Common or just nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)
    • 4.2 Bucky Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius)
    • 4.3 Red-necked nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis)
    • 4.4 The magnificent nightjar (Caprimulgus eximius)
  • 5 Male and female nightjar: the main differences
  • 6 Reproduction of the nightjar
  • 7 Voice of the Nightjar
  • 8 Interesting Facts About Bird

Description of the bird

Nightjars are small birds that lead an active life at night and at dusk. Their wings are long and narrow, the tail is long, the legs are short, weak. The beak is small, but the mouth is large and surrounded by bristles. The middle toe is very elongated and acts as a claw. The plumage is soft and loose, in brownish and gray tones to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Males and females are similar in appearance, but males, unlike females, have noticeable white spots on the wings and tail feathers.

In the air, nightjars resemble swifts or falcons, their flight is fast and silent, with sharp turns and hovering.

Nutritional features of the nightjar

The basis of the nightjar's diet is made up of flying insects, which birds hunt in the dark. Thus, the nightjar eats moths and beetles, dipterans (mosquitoes, midges), mayflies, bedbugs and hymenoptera (bees and wasps). Sand, pebbles and plant parts are also found in the stomachs of birds. The bird regurgitates undigested food residues in the form of lumps, which are called pellets, so do falcons and owls.

An active hunt for a nightjar begins in the dark and lasts until dawn, the bird hunts both on its forage territory and beyond. It catches insects with a nightjar in flight, and can guard its prey in ambush. Sometimes it pecks food from branches and the surface of the earth. During the day, nightjars sleep among fallen leaves or on branches, but they do not hide like owls. All thanks to their variegated plumage, squinted eyes and inactivity, which merges the bird with the environment.

Bird spread

Nightjars are found in all regions of the world, except for the circumpolar regions, remote oceanic islands and New Zealand. In Australia, they live only in the north.

In Europe, there are two types of nightjars - common and red-necked. Dun and Nubian nightjars are found in southeastern Europe. The common nightjar is widespread in Russia. The Big Nightjar is an inhabitant of East Asia.

Most of the nightjar populations are migratory.

Common or just nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)

A small graceful bird with a body length of 24.5 to 28 cm, a wingspan of 52-59 cm, males weigh from 51 to 101 g, and females weighing 67-95 g. The body is elongated, the wings are long, pointed, the tail is long. The beak is short and weak. Paws are short. The plumage is soft and loose. The back is brownish-gray with transverse streaks and stripes of red, brown and black. The belly is brownish-buffy, with a pattern of dark transverse stripes. There is a white stripe under the eyes. There are spots on the sides of the throat, white in the male and red in the female. The male also has developed white spots on the tips of the wings. Young birds resemble females in appearance. The beak is black, the eyes are black-brown.

The bird is widespread in the warm and temperate climate of northwestern Africa and Eurasia from the Atlantic to Transbaikalia.

Bucky Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius)

The body length of the bird is up to 25 cm, the wingspan is about 55 cm. Outwardly it resembles an ordinary nightjar, from which it differs in light golden-red plumage. The species lives in North Africa, Anterior and Central Asia.

Red-necked nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis)

The species is found in Europe on the Iberian Peninsula and in northwestern Africa.

Outwardly, it looks like an ordinary nightjar, but larger than the latter. The body length is from 29 to 32 cm, the wingspan is 53-64 cm. The wings of the bird are long, the eyes are large. The top is gray with brown-orange, black and white streaks, the breast and abdomen are off-white with thin dark streaks. In flight, three white specks are visible at the ends of the wing. There is a light gray eyebrow above the eyes, there is a white spot on the neck, a motley red strip runs between the neck and the back. Males and females are equally feathered.

Magnificent nightjar (Caprimulgus eximius)

The body length of the bird is from 23 to 25 cm, the weight reaches 66 g. The back and wing coverts are reddish-buffy or reddish-brown in color with grayish-white large spots and small dark brown spots. Sexual dimorphism is not typical.

The habitat of the species is Africa south of the Sahara.

Male and female nightjar: the main differences

Sexual dimorphism in the nightjar is rather weak. Only in some species do males differ from females by the presence of white spots on the wings and tail.

Nightjar breeding

Birds reach sexual maturity at the age of about a year. Males arrive at the nesting sites earlier than females, when leaves are just opening on the trees and insects appear. The male arriving at the nesting site begins to mow, he sings for a long time, sitting on the branches of trees. Noticing the female, the male finishes his song with a sharp cry and begins to loudly flap his wings to attract her attention. Caring for a female nightjar, it flies in the air like a butterfly, now and then hangs in one place, holds the body upright and spreads its wings so that white spots are visible.

The male shows the female the places for the future laying of eggs, from which the female chooses one. Birds do not build a nest, and eggs are laid directly on the ground, usually on a forest litter of last year's foliage, needles or dust, where the female will be the least noticeable. The nesting site is usually covered by a bush, fern, or branches.

Clutch occurs in late May or early June and consists of 2 eggs. The shell is shiny, white or grayish. The incubation period lasts up to 18 days. It is mainly the female who is engaged in incubation, which is sometimes replaced by the male.

Chicks are born in brownish downy plumage. They quickly become active. The first 4 days they are fed by the female, and then both partners. During the night, nightjars arrive at the nest about 10 times and bring offspring up to 150 insects. At the age of 3 weeks, the chicks become on the wing. And after two weeks they become completely independent.

Nightjar's voice

Nightjar is an outwardly inconspicuous bird, better known for its voice. Males sing most actively during the nesting period. The mating song of the male sounds like a dry monotonous trill "rrrrrrrr" and is similar to the rumbling of a green toad or the rumble of a motorcycle. This rattling is heard from dusk to dawn, its tone, frequency and volume change. Sometimes the nightjar makes a high-pitched sound "furr-furr-furr-furr", at which the song ends and he flies off to another tree.

In flight, males and females of the nightjar abruptly shout "weekend". Bird alarms sound like variations of a monosyllabic clink or a dull hiss.

Interesting facts about the bird

  • Kozodev can often be seen near grazing domestic animals. In such places, birds hunt flies, horseflies and other types of insects that accompany domestic animals. Nightjars fly side by side and run on the ground between animals, sometimes right among their legs. Such unusual habits, as well as the large mouth of the nightjar, became the reason for the appearance of such a name for the bird. It is very difficult to spot a nightjar in the forest, but you can easily see cows or goats next to a herd of cows or goats.

Distribution area

This bird lives in many parts of the world. It can be found in Eurasia, Africa, Europe, in some regions of Russia, Central and South America. It is not found in Scandinavia, Iceland and the northern regions of Scotland. She prefers to settle in dry, well-warmed areas. Also, her nests can be seen in swamps, river valleys, fields, the outskirts of clearings, thinned pine forests, wastelands and moorlands.

Nightjar is a bird that annually migrates over fairly long distances. She chooses a new place of residence taking into account the climate and the availability of sufficient food. She hibernates in dry and warm regions.

Nutrition and lifestyle

Flying insects form the basis of the diet of these birds. Mosquitoes, beetles, scoops and silkworms - this is not a complete list of what the nightjar feeds on. Why this is the name of the bird, you will understand a little later, but for now you will probably be curious to know that sand, small pebbles and even undigested plant elements are often found in their stomachs. The birds go on an active search for food at nightfall. They hunt insects all night, and at dawn they sit on branches or hide in fallen leaves and fall asleep until the evening.

It is interesting that nightjars are practically not afraid of people and in the process of hunting they can fly too close to them. These birds molt twice a year. The first time this happens during the winter, from December to February. The second, partial molt lasts from September to October.

Common nightjar

This large family includes several different species. Nightjar birds living in latitudes with a temperate climate are relatively small in size. The average body length of an adult is 28 centimeters. Moreover, their weight varies from 60 to 100 grams. The wingspan can reach sixty centimeters.

The whole body of the nightjar is covered with lush and soft feathers, which create additional volume. Therefore, looking at such a bird, one might think that it is much more than it actually is. The colorful appearance of these birds is complemented by a huge mouth, a small beak, large expressive eyes and short legs. The plumage of the nightjar is sustained in discreet brownish-gray tones. On the back there are red, black and chestnut stripes. The belly is colored brown, mixed with ocher, and white markings are located right under the bird's eyes.

For all its unsightly appearance, the nightjar has an extraordinary voice that sets it apart from other birds. The cry made by males can be heard even from a kilometer away. Their peculiar songs are vaguely similar to the sounds of a running motorcycle engine.

Gigantic nightjar

The bird, a photo of which you can see in today's article, lives in the Antilles, as well as in the tropical part of South and Central America. It is quite large in size. The body length of an adult is on average about thirty-five centimeters. The entire body of the gigantic nightjar is covered with gray plumage with black spots and stripes. The bird's extraordinary appearance is complemented by very short legs and a long tail.

She leads a solitary nocturnal lifestyle. In the daytime, a nightjar bird, a photo and description of which can be found in this publication, sits motionless. Therefore, it is very easy to confuse it with a tree knot. The gigantic nightjar feeds on various insects that are clearly visible in the moonlight. Butterflies and beetles form the basis of its diet.

Pennant nightjar

This small bird lives in South Africa. It is there that she breeds her offspring, and with the onset of cold weather, she flies to winter in the Congo. The pennant nightjar is a bird with a discreet appearance and relatively small size. The body length of an adult specimen usually does not exceed twenty-seven centimeters.

This type of nightjar is interesting in that with the onset of spring, males have white markings, from which their name originated.In addition, this bird can boast of an incredible size of the inner pair of primary flight wings.

Small nightjar

This bird species is widespread in the Greater Antilles and North America. It inhabits forest edges and other open areas. It is interesting that the small nightjar often chooses flat roofs for nesting.

Unlike most of its relatives, representatives of this species do not have the characteristic long and hard perioral setae.

Sleeping nightjar

These small short-tailed birds live in western North America. For the winter, they do not fly away to warm lands, but hide in the crevices of steep cliffs. During this period, the body temperature of sleeping nightjars decreases to 19 degrees. Therefore, they literally fall into a daze.

Scientists have ringed one of these nightjars and watched him for some time. As a result, they managed to find out that the bird returned to the same place to winter at least four times.

Why is this bird called that?

Nightjar got its name from a stupid, but interesting popular belief, which tells that with the onset of dusk, he flies close to goats and cows returning from pasture, and sticks to them with his beak. In reality, these birds, hovering over open space until dawn, catch various insects. Basically, they hunt moths, silkworms, long-legged mosquitoes, woodworms, scoops, golden beetles, barbel, May and June beetles.

The bulk of these insects are concentrated in places where farm animals are concentrated. Therefore, the nightjar often flies to where the grazing herds are. Approaching close to large and small ruminants, the bird flies right under its belly and catches its prey.

Nightjar appearance

If you look at the photo of the nightjar, then we will see a small and graceful bird up to 28 cm in size and weighing 65-100 grams. The body of the bird is slightly elongated, the wings are also long and pointed, the bird also has a rather long tail.

They have a peculiar plumage - loose and soft, which makes the bird look larger than it actually is. The color of the feathers is brownish-gray with a large number of transverse streaks and stripes of red, chestnut and black. White stripes are present under the eyes of the nightjars. The color of females and males is similar, the only difference is the spots on the sides of the throat in males are white, and in females they are red. Due to their plumage, they are remarkably camouflaged on a branch, in the daytime they are very difficult to distinguish from the crown of trees.

In flight, nightjars are very maneuverable and silent, in addition, they can hover in one place and glide with their wings wide apart. The main feature of these birds is their unique voice, reminiscent of the rumbling of a toad, heard at a distance of more than half a kilometer.

A young nightjar on a country road near Penza. Photo: a nightjar sleeps in the branches of a pine tree. Nightjar, photo taken on Elk Island.

The appearance of a giant forest nightjar

The gigantic gray nightjar is a large bird that resembles European nightjars in appearance.

The body length of a giant nightjar can reach 55 cm, and its weight can reach 230 g. The wingspan is about 125 cm, the tail - up to 27 cm, and the wing - up to 40 cm.

The plumage is mostly gray and has black stripes and spots. The legs of the bird are very short, and the tail is long. In general, nightjars are a fairly large group of birds that are widespread in various regions of the world (mainly tropical and subtropical) and are nocturnal. Unlike the gigantic forest nightjar, the bulk of the species weighs only about one hundred grams, and only the largest representatives of this order can reach the size of a rook and weigh up to four hundred grams.

Giant forest nightjar (Nyctibius grandis).

Both females and males of the nightjar are colored the same. At the same time, the color of nightjars does not differ in diversity and very much resembles the color of the bark of a particular tree. In the upper part of the body, the plumage is mottled against a black and white background with dark and very thin transverse lines in the form of zigzags. At the ends of the feathers there are rusts of a rusty-brown color. There are also dark bar stripes.

The legs of the gigantic forest nightjar are yellowish gray, the eyes are dark brown, and the beak is gray with a yellowish-horny tint.

One of the characteristic features of the nightjar is a short beak of very large width, which has bristle-like vibrissae at the corners of the mouth, which are a kind of adaptation for catching insects on the fly at night.

For nesting, gigantic nightjars prefer tropical forests.

The eyes of the nightjar are very sensitive and have a large size, which is also associated with a nocturnal lifestyle, as well as the loose, soft plumage of an owl.

Nightjars are excellent flyers, have pointed long wings with ten or, more rarely, eleven flight feathers. The tail is also long and has six pairs of tail feathers.

Flying nightjars have a noticeable resemblance to hawks and somewhat less to swallows.

Nightjar's paws are short and, once on the ground, their movements are characterized by low speed and clumsiness. They mostly move along the ground with awkward, slow jumps. In the area of ​​the upper tail of the gigantic nightjar there are powders that produce powdered fluff.

The gigantic nightjar is a nocturnal bird, and spends the day sitting motionless on a high tree.

The voice of the nightjar is peculiar, which is able to frighten a person unfamiliar with this bird with its rumbling and rumble. The nightjar is even capable of making sounds extremely similar to a snake hiss.

The spread of the gigantic forest nightjar

It is assumed that this bird is found in all forests of the South American continent. In any case, it was possible to catch him both in Paraguay and in Cayenne. Apparently, this bird is more common than was commonly thought, but it is very difficult to meet it during the day, and it is not easy to do it at night. Moreover, the nightjars have mastered the art of camouflage to perfection. The plumage, similar to the color of tree bark, reliably protects it from the eyes of enemies, and at the same time from the eyes of ornithologists. It is even more difficult to spot the gigantic gray nightjar due to its ability to remain motionless for a long time.

Nightjars perfectly camouflage themselves as tree branches.

Behavior of the gigantic forest nightjar

According to the observations of ornithologists, the gigantic forest nightjar chooses the ends of dried branches as a place for its sitting. At the same time, he sits down so that his head hangs beyond the end of the bitch, making the bitch seem longer than it really is. However, despite this, or, on the contrary, thanks to this, it is extremely difficult to notice the bird. However, if you still managed to notice the nightjar, then you can get the sleeping bird almost without effort, unless it climbed too high for rest.

From the notes of ornithologists it is known that the inhabitants of Paraguay catch the gigantic forest nightjars at noon, throwing a noose over their heads and pulling them from the tree. There are also mentions that at this time of day the nightjars may not even react to the sound of a shot. Moreover, it was sometimes impossible to drive the nightjar from his chosen resting place, even ruffling his feathers with a shot. Some nightjars were knocked off the branches by simply throwing a stone or even a stick at them. At the same time, a person driven from his place by a nightjar can easily return to his favorite place after a while, without fear of a repeated attack.

At dusk, this bird behaves in a completely different way. At this time of day, the gigantic forest nightjar is as agile and dexterous as other nightjars.

The diet of the gigantic forest nightjar includes mainly insects.

However, there are reports that gigantic nightjars can hunt in the daytime, acting as follows: from time to time the bird opens its mouth, thereby luring flies, which willingly sit on the sticky mucous membrane. And when the number of insects became large enough, the nightjar covered his mouth and swallowed the prey. After some time, the hunt resumed, but the bird's eyes remained closed all the time. However, when the observer touched the bird, it immediately flew away.

A gigantic forest nightjar hunting on the ground very rarely sits down, but if it does happen, then they can, spreading their wings, lean on them, as well as on the tail, almost without the help of their legs. Nightjars are especially active in the moonlight. At night, they sometimes emit drawn-out inviting cries, clear and deep, decreasing both in volume and in height.

Reproduction of the gigantic forest nightjar

There is only one egg in a nightjar's nest. The chicks are born fully sighted and dressed in thick variegated fluff, which perfectly disguises the chick in the nest. The only element that gives out a chick is a white egg shell. However, it is thanks to him that the parents manage to find their offspring in the dark forest. The nestling takes on the wing a few weeks later, but the parents feed it for some time.

By the nature of the color, the gigantic nightjar is very similar to real nightjars.

Nutrition of the giant forest nightjar

The main food of the gigantic forest nightjar is various insects, which it hunts at night, just like flycatchers do. That is, for some time he sits on a protruding branch, and then, taking off after prey, he returns back to his observation post.

Its diet consists mainly of butterflies, Orthoptera, Hymenoptera and other invertebrates.

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