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Species Guide

Jerdon's Nightjar

Caprimulgus atripennis

The Jerdon's nightjar, Caprimulgus atripennis, is a medium-sized nightjar species, a nocturnal bird with a wide gape, long wings, and soft downy plumage. It measures approximately 26 cm in length, making it slightly larger than the Indian nightjar. Its cryptic plumage is mainly variegated buff and brown, typical for the dark tropical woodland nightjars, with a barred tail, rufous rear neck, and wing bars. The male is distinguished by a white patch on each wing.

Identification Tips

To identify the Jerdon's nightjar, look for its fine vermiculations on the crown, giving it a nearly uniform shade, and a blackish collar. The species also features an unbroken white gorget similar to the long-tailed nightjar, but with a shorter tail. The Sri Lankan subspecies, C. a. aequabilis, is slightly smaller and darker than its Indian counterpart.


This bird is found in open woodland, scrub, and cultivated areas, where it remains concealed during the day, blending in with the soil.


Native to southern India and Sri Lanka, the Jerdon's nightjar occupies a range that extends across these regions.


The Jerdon's nightjar is a nocturnal bird that engages in silent, fluttering flight after sundown, resembling an oversized moth. It roosts on the ground but calls from trees and is less likely to be seen on roads at night, preferring bushes instead.

Song & Calls

The typical call of the Jerdon's nightjar is a fast repetitive ch-woo-woo, with another call resembling a frog-like croak.


Breeding season for this species is from March to July in India and February to May in Sri Lanka. The Jerdon's nightjar does not construct a nest; instead, it lays two marbled eggs directly on the ground. The brooding bird's plumage provides excellent camouflage, serving as the primary protection for the eggs. Chicks are able to crawl away from the nest shortly after hatching.

Similar Species

The Jerdon's nightjar can be confused with the Indian nightjar but is distinguishable by its larger size, barred tail, and the white patches on the male's wings.

Diet and Feeding

Its diet consists primarily of nocturnal insects such as moths. Unlike the Indian nightjar, the Jerdon's nightjar is not commonly found resting on roads at night.

Conservation Status

The Jerdon's nightjar is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, with a stable population trend and a large range.

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Jerdon's Nightjars on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Hemant Kirola
18 Nov 2023 - 7:50pm

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