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European Nightjar

From Opus

Alternative name: Eurasian Nightjar

Photo by picusCarmine Bivio, Italy, June 2006
Photo by picus
Carmine Bivio, Italy, June 2006
Caprimulgus europaeus


[edit] Identification

L 26cm
Wingspan 55cm

  • Plumage is heavily streaked with buff, chestnut and black
  • Underparts are barred
  • White spots on primaries and outer tail feathers
  • Black bill
  • Legs: reddish brown

Female similar, but lacks the white spots on wings and tail.
In the Juvenile these spots are buff.

[edit] Distribution

Widespread summer visitor to much of the region. Breeds in Ireland (rare) and southern Britain and from Iberia east to the southern Urals and Caspian. In the north reaches south-east Norway and southern parts of Sweden and Finland, and across Russia north to about 62 degrees N. Also breeds south to the Mediterranean and on most larger islands, throughout Turkey and the Caucasus and from Morocco to Tunisia in North-West Africa. Range patchy and discontinuous in much of North-Western Europe and still in decline in many areas.

Begins to leave breeding areas in late July, by early October most have left for sub-Saharan Africa. The spring return movement is mainly April-May, rarely earlier.

Vagrant north to Iceland and Faroes, and west to the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Several races occur in the Region differing slightly in size, ground colour and amount of white in wings of male. Other less differentiated races are found in the east of the Region but there is much intergradation and variation occurs within, as well as between, races.

There are 6 subspecies[1]:

  • C. e. europaeus:
  • Northern and central Europe to northern Asia and Lake Baikal area; winters to Africa
  • C. e. meridionalis: generally smaller and paler
  • C. e. sarudnyi:
  • Eastern side of Caspian Sea (Kazakstan) to Altai Mountains
  • C. e. unwini:
  • C. e. plumipes:
  • C. e. dementievi:
  • North-eastern Mongolia and southern Transbaikalia

[edit] Habitat

Dry open woodland and woodland edge, usually pine but also birch or oak, heathland and moorland with scattered trees, young forestry plantations and chalk downland. In some areas found on stony steppe country with sparse vegetation.

[edit] Behaviour


[edit] Breeding

Ground nesters.

[edit] Diet

Hawks for moths and other night-flying insects.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at
  2. Wikipedia

[edit] External Links


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