The European nightjar is a crepuscular and nocturnal bird in the nightjar family. It breeds across most of Europe and the Palearctic to Mongolia and Northwestern China. The six subspecies differ clinally, the birds becoming smaller and paler towards the east of the range.
About European nightjar in brief
The European nightjar is a crepuscular and nocturnal bird in the nightjar family. It breeds across most of Europe and the Palearctic to Mongolia and Northwestern China. The six subspecies differ clinally, the birds becoming smaller and paler towards the east of the range. All populations are migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa. The preferred habitat is dry, open country with some trees and small bushes. Despite population decreases, its large numbers and huge breeding range mean that it is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being of least concern. It is replaced further east in Asia by the jungle nightjar which occupies similar habitat. The species name europaeus is Latin for ‘European’ or ‘goat’sucker’ The male has patterned grey and brown plumage, although the male shows white patches in the wings and tail as he flies at night. It hunts by sight, silhouetting its prey against the night sky. Its eyes are relatively large, each with a reflective layer, which improves night vision. It appears not to rely on its hearing to find insects and does not echolocate. Drinking and bathing take place during flight. Although it suffers a degree of predation and parasitism, the main threats to the species are habitat loss, disturbance and a reduction of its insect prey through pesticide use. Only one record of the species dates back to the late lateocene. The male E.
nightjar weighs 51–59 cm, with a 52–101 cm wingspan, and the female 67–95 cm. The adult of the nominate subspecies has grey-brown upperparts with dark streaking, a pale buffneck and a hindneck. The closed grey wing is grey with a white moustachial line, due to noachial moustache. The flight is no longer pointed due to their long, pointed wings, and their soft, soft legs and feet are brown and the iris is dark brown and soft on their flight. The breeding season is in spring and the male advertises his presence with a distinctive sustained churring trill from a perch. He patrols his territory with wings held in a V and tail fanned, chasing intruders while wing-clapping and calling. The female chases the female in a spiralling display flight. It has greyish-brown, barring brown and buff spots under the bill, and black bill is blackish, the bill is iris dark and the flight is soft on the legs and the feet are dark brown. The males, and sometimes females, often have white markings in the wing or tail and the males have larger white wing spots. The Latin generic name refers to the old myth that nightjars suckled goats, causing them to cease to give milk. The common name, ‘nightjar’, first recorded in 1630, referring to the noonturnal habits of the bird, the second part of the name deriving from the distinctive churring song. The largest and most widespread genus is Caprimulgus.