Savanna Nightjar

Savanna Nightjar
Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis stictomus, Taiwan, February. (Craig Brelsford)

Savanna Nightjar Caprimulgus affinis amoyensis is resident Yunnan to Fujian (but not Hainan) and stictomus Taiwan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Wide variety, from open woodlands to grasslands and bare, stony ground, from sea level to 1000 m (3,280 ft.). Tolerates human-disturbed habitats and is often found in towns. Mainly crepuscular, flying agilely and noiselessly, sometimes in small parties, feeding in typical caprimulgid manner on insects caught on the wing. Sometimes lies on ground. ID & COMPARISON Smaller, paler, and more uniformly colored than Large-tailed Nightjar C. macrurus and Grey Nightjar C. jotaka. Male distinguished from other nightjars in China by having outer tail feathers almost completely white. Mainly brownish-grey upperparts lack bold black streaking (except on crown), instead being heavily mottled black. Has rufous markings on flight feathers and coverts and rufous-buff edging to scapulars. Underparts buff-brown, with barring; undertail coverts paler and largely unmarked. Male has two white patches on throat and white patches (visible in flight) on outer primaries; in female, patches are buff-colored. BARE PARTS Bill brown with black tip; feet brown to black. VOICE Distinctive, piercing territorial song, chweep, usually given in flight, the single note uttered at intervals of about one per second or slower. — 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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