Birda Logo

White-tailed Nightjar

Hydropsalis cayennensis

The White-tailed Nightjar, Hydropsalis cayennensis, is a nocturnal bird with a length of 20 to 22.5 cm and a slightly forked tail. Males typically weigh between 33 to 40 grams, while females are slightly lighter at 32 to 38 grams. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males having distinctive white markings on their wings and tail.

Identification Tips

Males of the nominate subspecies are characterized by grayish-brown uppersides with intricate patterns of speckles and streaks. A white or buffy supercilium and "moustache" adorn their faces, and a broad tawny buff collar graces the hindneck. The wings are a mix of grayish to blackish brown with tawny and buffy markings, and a white band is visible on both spread and folded wings. The tail is slightly forked with white on the outer feathers. The underparts are a mix of white and buff with brown bars and bold white spots. Females are generally darker with less white on their plumage.


This species thrives in open landscapes such as savannas, pastures, scrubby grasslands, and hillsides with scattered bushes and thickets.


The White-tailed Nightjar can be found across a range of countries including the "ABC Islands", Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Martinique, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.


The White-tailed Nightjar is a nocturnal bird that forages by sallying from the ground or perches, as well as hunting in flight low over open grasslands. During the day, it roosts on the ground, blending in with its surroundings.

Song & Calls

The male's call is a high, thin "pt-cheeeeeeeee," a long-drawn-out, rising whistle that falls slightly at the end, sung from dusk into the night during breeding season. Additional vocalizations include a scratchy "wheer" in flight and a thin "tic-tic" when flushed from a roost.


Breeding seasons vary across the White-tailed Nightjar's range, with males performing a wing-clapping display. The clutch typically consists of two eggs laid directly on the ground, with only the female responsible for incubation.

Conservation Status

The IUCN has classified the White-tailed Nightjar as Least Concern, with a large range and population. However, the population is believed to be decreasing, with habitat destruction and introduced predators posing threats on Martinique.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

White-tailed Nightjars on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Susan Schiera
31 Dec 2023 - 10:49pm

More Nightjars

A photo of a Chuck-will's-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis)


Antrostomus carolinensis
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Unbridled Discoveries
Great app for bird lovers
I love this app! It’s a wonderful way to track birding sessions, and also connect you with fellow birders. I also really like the unidentified bird section, it’s a great community tool to help figure out what a never-before-seen bird is!
Dan R
Great app for bird fanatics
Great app for bird fanatics - very user friendly and a perfect place to share sightings.
Birda fan
I really enjoy using Birda, all sightings are recorded and photos can be added. There are monthly challenges which help to get you out to record your sightings. The Birda community are great and are happy to help with unidentified bird sightings. Suitable for all ages and experience!
Robred 2
Fun way to add to your birdwatching experience
I enjoy watching birds in my backyard, but this app helped me really pay attention while on vacation this summer. It was fun to add new birds to my bird watching app.
Really great app
It’s easy to use and it’s fun to log the birds you notice on a walk or just in your garden. There’s a option to record the birds you see in a session which is really nice. Good excuse to stop for a while and just watch birds. I am also enjoying the information part where you can find out fact about birds from all over the world.
Paul F
Very good database
Highly recommend. It great that this app shows you male Vs female variations when posting. Very good database I'm really impressed.
Loving it
I really enjoy being able to interact with other birders on this platform! This seems like a great way to meet other birders and find some new spots.
Ideal Birdwatch Companion
Simply adds to the enjoyment of my birdwatching and helps me record what I’ve seen.
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Love Birda
I love this app. It really encourages you to log your sightings and the community is friendly and helpful.
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
© 2024 All rights reserved