Vaurie’s Nightjar

Vaurie’s Nightjar Caprimulgus centralasicus shows the difficulties of bird conservation and in particular the conservation of caprimulgids. It is not known whether this species is locally common, threatened, endangered, or even extinct. The only record of Vaurie’s dates from 1929; a single individual, a female, was collected near Guma (Pishan) in western Xinjiang. The bird has not been seen since, despite searches in the 1970s and 1990s. The researchers in 1929 initially assumed that the bird was Egyptian Nightjar C. aegyptius, which like Vaurie’s has mainly sandy-grey plumage and has been recorded in Xinjiang. But ornithologist Charles Vaurie noted the smaller size of the specimen, its rounder wings, and its less marked pattern of dark and light markings on its outer primaries; this was no Egyptian Nightjar, Vaurie asserted, but a distinct species. The type specimen also has more distinct black streaking on head, chestnut on ear-coverts, more rufous (rather than whitish) underwing, and plainer tail and folded wing compared to Egyptian. The only other nightjar known to occur in Xinjiang, European Nightjar C. europaeus, is larger and longer-winged and has white or cinnamon flashes on its wings and corners to its tail. — 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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