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Species Guide
A photo of a Dusky Nightjar (Antrostomus saturatus)
Dusky Nightjar

Dusky Nightjar

Antrostomus saturatus

The dusky nightjar, known scientifically as Antrostomus saturatus, is a rather elusive bird of the nightjar family, Caprimulgidae. This species exhibits a sooty black plumage with fine reddish cinnamon spots and bars, creating a cryptic appearance that blends seamlessly with its nocturnal habitats.

Identification Tips

Adult males of the dusky nightjar measure between 21 to 25 cm in length and weigh approximately 52.9 g. They are characterized by their sooty black upperparts adorned with reddish cinnamon spots. The face mirrors this reddish hue, while the central tail feathers are marked with similar bars and the outer three pairs boast wide white tips. The wings are blackish with cinnamon bars, and the throat and breast are speckled with white spots, separated by a narrow band of white and buff. The belly is a blend of cinnamon to buff with narrow black bars. Females resemble males but have larger reddish buff markings and narrower buff tips on the outer tail feathers. Juveniles tend to be paler and more reddish than adults.


The dusky nightjar frequents the edges and clearings of humid montane forests, preferring these open areas to the dense interiors of the forest.


This species has a scattered distribution across the highlands of Costa Rica and is also found on Volcán Barú in Panama's Chiriquí Province. It resides at elevations ranging from 1,500 to 3,100 meters.


Nocturnal by nature, the dusky nightjar typically forages from a perch several meters above ground, swooping down to catch flying insects in mid-air. It is less commonly seen foraging from the ground.

Song & Calls

The male's song is a distinctive trilled, double-noted whistle that can be transcribed as "prurrr prureee" or "prurrrr prruwhip". This song is most often heard during the breeding season, emanating from perches and occasionally from the ground, particularly on moonlit nights. The flight call is a scratchy "wheer".


The breeding season for the dusky nightjar extends from February or March into April. Nesting habits are not well-documented, but one described nest was a small grass-lined depression containing a single egg.

Similar Species

The dusky nightjar could potentially be confused with other nightjar species, but its unique coloration and distribution help distinguish it from its relatives.

Diet and Feeding

Beetles and moths comprise the bulk of the dusky nightjar's diet, which it captures in flight during its nocturnal forays.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the dusky nightjar as Least Concern. With an estimated population of over 20,000 mature individuals and no immediate threats identified, the species' population is believed to be stable.

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Dusky Nightjars on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
James M
03 Mar 2024 - 1:37am
Costa Rica

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