Sykes's nightjar

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The Sykes's nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis) belongs to the family of nightjars, Caprimulgidae.

These species of nightjar are distributed in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. In United Arab Emirates vagrant Sykes's nightjars have been recorded. The Sykes's nightjar is named to commemorate Colonel William Henry Sykes, FRS (25 January 1790 – 16 June 1872), an English naturalist and ornithologist. These birds are monotypic species.

Sykes's nightjar - Overview

  • Scientific name: Caprimulgus mahrattensis
  • Species author: Sykes, 1832
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Caprimulgus Mahrattensis Sykes, 1832
  • Family: Caprimulgidae › Caprimulgiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Sykes's nightjar, Chinese: 塞氏夜鹰, French: Engoulevent de Sykes, German: Sykesnachtschwalbe, Spanish: Chotacabras de Mahratta, Russian: Козодой Сайкса, Japanese: ウスイロヨタカ
  • Other names: Sindh nightjar
  • Distribution: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran
  • Diet and feeding habits: flying insects, beetles, moths, locusts, crickets
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Sykes's nightjar is closely related to Jungle nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus) and European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Sykes's nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis) is a smallish nightjar measuring about 20 to 25 cm in length and weighing about 60 grams.

The nightjar upperparts are sandy brown with blackish brown and pale brown spotting. Their plumage resembles tree bark, dry leaves or sandy ground. They have small feet which are of little use for walking and useful only for perching. The short bill is pale gray and there are bristles around the mouth. The irises are dark blackish brown. The wings are long and narrow. Their call is a prolonged low trilling sound.
Indian birds - Image of Sykes's nightjar - Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Birds of India - Picture of Sykes's nightjar - Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Indian birds - Picture of Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Indian birds - Sykes's nightjar - Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Indian birds - Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Birds of India - Image of Sykes's nightjar - Caprimulgus mahrattensis

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Sykes's nightjar is distributed in Northwest India, Pakistan, Southeast Afghanistan and Southeast Iran. In India these nightjar species are distributed in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab. Vagrant birds have been recorded in United Arab Emirates.

Ecosystem and habitat

The Sykes's nightjar species have low forest dependence. They inhabit various ecosystems having dry open areas with trees and bushes. They inhabit open woodlands, plantations, urban parks, rural gardens, tropical moist lowlands, subtropical grasslands, inland cliffs, semi-deserts with scattered thorn scrub, dry stony scrubland and rocky areas.

The Sykes's nightjar may occur in elevations of 0 to 500 meters. The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of these species in Iran is Bahu Kalat (Gandu) Protected Area. The IBA in Afghanistan are Registan desert and Hamun-i-Puzak.

Diet and feeding habits

The diet of these nightjar species is mostly large flying insects such as beetles, moths, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets and cicadas. They are mostly active in the late evening, early morning and at night. They are very agile and buoyant in their foraging flight, flying low and hunting over open terrain.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these bird species is from February to August in Pakistan, with a peak period during March to May. In India the breeding season is from March to May. The clutch has one or two eggs. These nightjar species lay eggs directly on the bare ground.

Migration and movement patterns

These nightjar species are mostly migrant birds. They move southwards for wintering. 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 Sykes's nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis) has not been quantified. The overall population size is considered to be stable. In most of its range this species is reported to be common. Habitat degradation, destruction and fragmentation are the main threats to the survival of these bird species. Their generation length is 5.6 years.

The Sykes's nightjar does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the Sykes's nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis) and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

Taxonomy and scientific classification of Caprimulgus mahrattensis
Species:C. mahrattensis
Binomial name:Caprimulgus mahrattensis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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