Grey nightjar

   ›      ›   Grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka.

The grey nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka) belongs to the family of nightjars, Caprimulgidae, characterized by long wings, short legs and short bills. These nightjar species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Siberia, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Philippines. The grey nightjar species are nocturnal and are active primarily during twilight (crepuscular). There are two recognized subspecies of these birds.

Grey nightjar - Overview

  • Scientific name: Caprimulgus jotaka
  • Species author: Temminck & Schlegel, 1844
  • Synonyms: Caprimulgus jotaka Temminck and Schlegel, 1844
  • Family: Caprimulgidae › Caprimulgiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Common Name: Grey nightjar
  • Other languages: Chinese: *普通夜鹰, French: Engoulevent jotaka, German: Graunachtschwalbe, Spanish: Chotacabras jotaka, Russian: Японский козодой , Indonesian: Cabak kelabu, Japanese: ヨタカ
  • Other names: Gray nightjar
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Siberia, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines
  • Diet and feeding habits: moths, locust, grasshoppers, flying ants, wasps, bees, flies
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The two recognized subspecies of Caprimulgus jotaka are: C. j. hazarae Whistler, 1935 and C. j. jotaka Temminck & Schlegel, 1844. They were earlier treated as conspecific with C. indicus. However, they are now separated and considered as full species.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The grey nightjar is a small nocturnal bird, measuring 22 to 25 cm in length and weighing 70 to 90 grams. These birds are sexually dimorphic. These birds are dark grayish brown on the upperside with obscure marks and patterns. These nightjars are characterized by long wings, short legs and very short bills. The nightjars have small feet which are of little use in walking. Their call is a high perch, a loud, rapid “SCHurk’ sound. These nightjar species perch along a branch, rather than across it.
Indian birds - Image of grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka
Birds of India - Image of grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka
Birds of India - Grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka
Indian birds - Grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka
Indian birds - Grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka
Birds of India - Grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The grey nightjar subspecies C. j. hazarae is distributed in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, southern China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The subspecies Caprimulgus jotaka jotaka occurs in Southeast Siberia, Eastern, Central and Southern China, Japan and Korea. They winter in Indonesia and Philippines.

Ecosystem and habitat

These grey nightjar species inhabit submontane forests, temperate forests, foothill forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, dense evergreen primary and secondary forests open scrub forests and hillside forests.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these nightjar species is primarily large flying insects like beetles, grasshoppers, cicadas and moths. They catch their prey while flying.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the grey nightjar species is from May to August in Japan. The breeding season in India is March to June. They lay eggs on the open ground.

Migration and movement patterns

These grey nightjar species are partially migratory. The subspecies C. j. jotaka from East Asia migrates to Greater Sundas (Indonesia) and Philippines i winter. Post breeding dispersal of juveniles takes place. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Conservation status and concerns

The global population size of the grey nightjar has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be stable. These species have large range and population. These nightjar species does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable neither under the population trend criterion nor under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the grey nightjar species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Caprimulgus jotaka
Species:C. jotaka
Binomial name:Caprimulgus jotaka
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
Popular posts in Birds of India

1.Image source:
Image author: Jason Thompson | License: CC BY 2.0 (as on 2016-11-25)
2.Image source:
Image author: Koshy Koshy | License: CC BY 2.0
3.Image source:
Image author: gailhampshire | License: CC BY 2.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Grey nightjar - Caprimulgus jotaka.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.