Large-tailed Nightjar

Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus ranges Indian Subcontinent to Australia, with bimaculatus resident Yunnan and Hainan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Areas with combination of open spaces suitable for nighttime foraging and close cover for daytime roosting; avoids treeless areas and dense forest. In Yunnan up to 2700 m (8,860 ft.). Often seen in towns and perching at night on roads. Emerges after sunset, pursuing insects in agile, erratic, silent flight and hawking after them from perches. ID & COMPARISON More boldly marked than Grey Nightjar C. jotaka and Savanna Nightjar C. affinis, and coloring warmer and more rufous-toned (especially on cheeks and nape). Crown pale grey with blackish median stripe; nape often strongly rufescent. Scapulars black with prominent buffish edge. Buff tips to blackish, brown and grey coverts form wing bars. Has single, large, white throat patch. Male has bold white patches on primaries and on corners of tail, conspicuous in flight. Female has smaller and buffier patches on primaries and tail corners. Grey Nightjar more uniform, with dark markings more evenly distributed, and white/buff markings less contrasting. Grey Nightjar also slightly smaller, lacks rufous tinge to nuchal collar and cheeks, and has different tail pattern. European Nightjar C. europaeus is less rufous on cheeks and nape and has shorter white tail corners. BARE PARTS Bill brown with black tip; feet brown. VOICE Distinctive song a loud, hollow, resonant chaunk, repeated monotonously at a rate of about 100 per minute (faster than Savanna Nightjar, slower than Grey Nightjar). — Craig Brelsford

THE NIGHTJARS OF CHINA covers all seven members of Caprimulgidae in China. Click any link:

Great Eared Nightjar Lyncornis macrotis
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka
European Nightjar C. europaeus
Egyptian Nightjar C. aegyptius
Vaurie’s Nightjar C. centralasicus
Large-tailed Nightjar C. macrurus
Savanna Nightjar C. affinis


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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