Jerdon's nightjar

   ›      ›   Jerdon's nightjar - Caprimulgus atripennis.

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

These nightjar species are distributed in Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats in Southern India. The Jerdon's nightjar is a nocturnal bird, feeding predominantly on moths and other large flying insects. There are two recognized subspecies of these nightjar species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Jerdon's Nightjar Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Jerdon's nightjar - Overview

  • Scientific name: Caprimulgus atripennis
  • Species author: Jerdon, 1845
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Caprimulgus atripennis Jerdon, 1845
  • Family: Caprimulgidae › Caprimulgiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Jerdon's nightjar, Chinese: 印度长尾夜鹰, French: Engoulevent de Jerdon, German: Maharadschanachtschwalbe, Spanish: Chotacabras marajá, Russian: Шри-Ланкийский козодой, Japanese: インドオビロヨタカ, Tamil: Neendavaal Pakki
  • Other names: Ceylon Nightjar, Indian Long-tailed Nightjar
  • Distribution: southern India, Sri Lanka
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects like beetles, moths, termites
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Jerdon's nightjar (Caprimulgus atripennis) is closely related to the large-tailed nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus), Andaman nightjar (Caprimulgus andamanicus), Philippine nightjar (Caprimulgus manillensis) and Sulawesi nightjar (Caprimulgus celebensis).

The two recognized subspecies of Jerdon's nightjar are: C. a. atripennis Jerdon, 1845 and C. a. aequabilis Ripley, 1945.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Jerdon's nightjar (Caprimulgus atripennis) is a small bird, measuring 25 to 27 cm in length and weighing about 50 grams. These nightjar species are sexually dimorphic. The males have a white patch on each wing. The overall plumage is buff brown. The crown is grayish brown. The central feathers are blackish-brown with spare bold spots and streaks. The wings and tail are barred.

These nightjar species have soft downy plumage cryptically coloured to resemble bark or leaves. The wings are narrow and long. The beak is brownish and the gape is wide. The feet are small, of little use for walking. The irises are dark brown. The nightjar call is a fast repetitive "ch-woo-woo" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Jerdon's nightjar - Caprimulgus atripennis
Birds of India - Image of Jerdon's nightjar - Caprimulgus atripennis

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Jerdon's nightjar species are distributed in Sri Lanka and Southern India. The subspecies C. a. aequabilis is distributed in Sri Lanka. The subspecies C. a. atripennis is distributed in peninsular India in Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats.

In Western Ghats, these species occur in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In the Eastern Ghats, they occur in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Jerdon's nightjar species are moderately forest dependent. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 2000 meters. They inhabit various natural and human-altered ecosystems.

These species inhabit plantations, evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests, tropical and subtropical forests, tropical and subtropical mangrove vegetation, tropical and subtropical moist lowlands, scrub jungles, open woodlands and tropical and subtropical degraded forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Jerdon's nightjar species is mostly large insects. Insects like grasshoppers, locusts, cicadas, moths, beetles and wasps are the primary food. They are mostly active in the late evening, early morning and at night, hawking their prey in the air.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the Jerdon's nightjar species is from March to July in India. The breeding season is from February to May and August to September in Sri Lanka. Eggs are laid on the bare ground. The clutch may have two eggs. The female incubates the eggs. The hatchlings, under threat, crawl and hide among the leaf litter.

Migration and movement patterns

The Jerdon's nightjar is a non-migrant resident bird. Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Jerdon's nightjar (Caprimulgus atripennis) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these nightjar species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be reasonably common. The generation length is 5.6 years. Their distribution size is about 1,410,000

The Jerdon's nightjar (Caprimulgus atripennis) 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 ongoing deforestation and destruction of the habitat, is the main threat that may endanger the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the nightjar species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Jerdon's nightjar (Caprimulgus atripennis).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Caprimulgus atripennis
Species:C. atripennis
Binomial name:Caprimulgus atripennis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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