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Species Guide

Buff-collared Nightjar

Antrostomus ridgwayi

The Buff-collared Nightjar, also known as Ridgway's Whip-poor-will, is a nightjar species belonging to the family Caprimulgidae. This bird is characterized by its brownish gray plumage adorned with gray, cream, and rust markings. A distinctive bright cinnamon buff collar graces its hindneck, and a narrow buffy white band can be found under its throat. The wings are a brownish black with cinnamon buff bands, while the breast is brownish gray and the belly tan with dark brown bars. Males have white on the ends of their outermost tail feathers, whereas females display a small amount of buff.

Identification Tips

To identify the Buff-collared Nightjar, look for its bright cinnamon buff collar and the narrow buffy white band under the throat. The bird measures 22 to 23 cm in length and weighs between 39.8 to 61.0 g. The male's white tail feather tips are a key distinguishing feature from the female's buff tips.


This nightjar inhabits a variety of landscapes, including thickly vegetated ravines and canyons in arid regions, as well as thorn scrub and moister pine-oak woodlands further south. In the United States, it is typically found at elevations between 933 and 1,400 meters.


The Buff-collared Nightjar is found in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the U.S. states of Arizona and New Mexico. The nominate subspecies breeds from southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico south through central Mexico to Morelos and migrates from that area in winter. It is a year-round resident in western Mexico from southern Sonora to Chiapas, and A. r. troglodytes is a year-round resident of Guatemala, Honduras, and possibly Nicaragua.


Most active at dawn and dusk, the Buff-collared Nightjar is also nocturnal. During the day, it roosts on the ground under low vegetation, often on steep ground with its head pointing downhill.

Song & calls

The male's song is a long rising, accelerating series of cuk notes ending in cuk-a-cheea that drops suddenly at the end. Both sexes make "chuck" calls, and males also give a "quirr" call. Singing is most frequent at dawn and dusk but continues intermittently throughout the night.


The breeding season for the Buff-collared Nightjar is not fully defined but includes at least April to June. The clutch typically consists of two eggs laid directly on the ground, often in a shady spot. There is at least one observation of an adult performing a broken-wing display to distract potential threats from its nest.

Conservation status

The IUCN has assessed the Buff-collared Nightjar as being of Least Concern. It has a very large range and an estimated population of 2,000,000, though the number is believed to be decreasing. No immediate threats have been identified, but there is potential for habitat loss in Mexico. The small U.S. range of this species is largely protected from such threats.

Buff-collared Nightjar Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Buff-collared Nightjars on Birda

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Vernie Aikins
25 Jun 2023 - 6:33am

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