Long-tailed Nightjar

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Image:LTNightjar.jpg

Common Name: Long-tailed Nightjar
Scientific Name: Caprimulgus climacurus

Size: 11-17 inches (28-43 cm); Wingspan: 22.8-30.3 inches (58-77 cm)

Habitat: Africa; occurs in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. The nominate race is migratory and partially sedentary, some populations moving southward after breeding season. Race sclateri is possibly sedentary and partially migratory while Race nigricans is probably sedentary.

It is highly variable throughout its range, in all habitats from arid semi-deserts to woods, forest and forest clearings. It is common in all types of grassland and in cultivated areas. Also, it is found in recently burnt areas and open patches in second growth and villages in Liberia. Outside breeding season, it is also found in stony hillsides and papyrus swamps.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown amount of adult individuals with a stable population trend. Common and locally abundant throughout much of its range, perhaps less so in forest clearings in the South. It is widespread and common in Senegal, locally common in Gambia, common in Ghana and Togo, and a fairly common breeding visitor to Niger. It is locally abundant on the Southern shores of Chad and widespread and common in Nigeria. The numbers in the south are enhanced by northern migrants from November through February. It is common and widely distributed throughout much of Sudan, common in northern Congo, widely distributed in Zaire; but rare to scarce locally in Kenya. It also occurs in several protected areas such as Djoudj and Niokola Koba National Parks (Senegal), W National Park (Niger) and Waza National Park (Cameroon).

Diet: Nocturnal insects, including moths and termites. Forages in flight, hunting low over sandbars and beaches or higher up above rivers. Also feeds over open country, usually near rivers, and on insects attracted to artificial lights. Often forages in loose flocks.

Nesting: Sexes are dimorphic. Variable in color ranging from pale brown, brown and grayish-brown to sandy-buff. The upper parts and wing-coverts are generally grayish-brown, finely streaked with brown. The male has a white line across the fore wing, while the female has a buff or buffish-white line. They have a broad tawny or buff nuchal collar and white throat patch. The under parts are pale brown, speckled and barred pale buff, becoming buff thinly barred with brown on belly and flanks. The male has a broad white band across the five outermost primaries and a white trailing edge to inner wings. The tail is graduated, the central pair of feathers being longest and the outer tail feathers edged and tipped white. The female has a buffish-white wing band and buff or buffish-white trailing edge to the inner wing, and it is shorter-tailed with the outer feathers edged and tipped buff. The irises are brown, the bills are brown, and the legs and feet are brownish. Immatures are similar to adult female but paler.

Breeding season depends on region and rainfall. They are probably monogamous and a scrape-type nest in used with eggs laid on leaf litter or bare earth, often on or alongside path or track, or in cultivated field. The clutch usually has 2 eggs which are elliptical, creamy-white, buff or pinkish, heavily blotched gray or grayish-purple and stained umber.

Cool Facts: There are three subspecies:

  • C. c. climacurus, first reported by Vieillot in 1824. The nominate species is found in South Mauritania and Senegal eastward to Southern Sudan and Northern South Sudan; partial migrant southward to Guinean savanna and forest zones.
  • C. c. sclateri, first reported by Bates in 1927. It is found in the humid belt of West Africa (Sierra Leone to Nigeria) eastward to Northern Congo, Western Uganda and South Sudan. Race sclateri is more rufous, but variable in color, than the nominate species.
  • C. c. nigricans, first reported by Salvadori in 1868. It is centered on White Nile in Southeast Sudan, reaching eastward to West Eritrea and southward to Northerneastern South Sudan and Western Ethiopia. Race nigricans is distinctive, generally blackish and the male often longer-tailed than the nominate species.


Found in Songbird ReMix Frogmouths, Nightjars & Goatsuckers

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