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A photo of a Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius)
Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Caprimulgus aegyptius

The Egyptian nightjar, Caprimulgus aegyptius, is a medium-small bird that is a master of camouflage. Its sand-coloured plumage, adorned with bars and streaks of buff and brown, allows it to blend seamlessly into its desert surroundings. The underparts are sandy or whitish, providing further disguise against the ground. This species is smaller than its European counterpart, yet it boasts longer wings and a more extended tail, which aid in its silent, moth-like flight. The male is distinguished by minute white spots on its wings. The bird measures approximately 25 cm in length with a wingspan of 55 cm.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Egyptian nightjar, look for its pale, variegated plumage which is an excellent adaptation to its desert habitat. The bird's wide gape, long wings, and soft downy feathers are characteristic of the nightjar family. The male's tiny white wing spots can be a helpful identifier if visible.


The Egyptian nightjar favors open desert landscapes dotted with sparse trees or shrubs. It is often found near water sources in areas with scant vegetation and scrub, adapting well to its arid environment.


This nightjar's native range spans across northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East, reaching into countries such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen. It is a rare visitor to Europe, with occasional sightings in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Malta, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.


By day, the Egyptian nightjar remains motionless on the ground, its plumage a perfect mimicry of the sandy soil, rendering it nearly invisible. At dusk, particularly around sundown, it takes to the air in a silent, effortless flight, alternating between strong wingbeats and graceful glides.

Song & Calls

The nightjar's call is a distinctive mechanical kroo-kroo-kroo that modulates as the bird rotates its head, a sound that can be heard echoing through the desert air at twilight.


In the breeding season, the Egyptian nightjar does not construct a nest. Instead, it lays two elongated, elliptical eggs directly onto the bare ground. The incubating bird, with its cryptic plumage, provides the best defense against potential predators.

Similar Species

While similar in habit to other nightjars, the Egyptian nightjar can be differentiated by its paler plumage and smaller size compared to the European nightjar.

Diet and Feeding

As a crepuscular hunter, the Egyptian nightjar feeds on insects that are active during twilight, such as moths, capturing them with its wide gape during its silent flight.

Conservation status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Egyptian nightjar as "Least Concern." This status reflects the bird's fairly common presence across a wide distribution and the lack of significant threats, aside from habitat destruction.

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