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Indian Nightjar

Caprimulgus asiaticus

The Indian nightjar, Caprimulgus asiaticus, is a diminutive and cryptically colored bird, a master of camouflage within its South Asian and Southeast Asian range. It sports a golden nape and collar, with dark cheeks and a grey crown. The underparts are finely barred in brown, and the tail is short with white corners. Males are distinguished by more pronounced white on their tails, while females exhibit heavier streaking on the crown.

Identification Tips

To identify this elusive bird, look for the white patches on the sides of the throat, a feature that sets it apart from its congeners. The male's white tail corners are more prominent than the female's. It can be differentiated from Sykes's nightjar by its dark undertail and from Jerdon's nightjar by its shorter tail and the throat patches.


The Indian nightjar favors open woodland, scrub, and cultivated areas. It is typically found on the ground or perching low in trees, but it does not roost on high perches.


This species is widespread, ranging from northwestern India and adjacent Pakistan, excluding the arid desert, and extending south of the Himalayas to Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Vietnam. It is also present in Sri Lanka.


At daybreak, the Indian nightjar remains motionless on the ground, its plumage blending seamlessly with the soil, rendering it nearly invisible. At night, it takes flight silently, akin to a moth, in search of food.

Song & Calls

The Indian nightjar's call is a distinctive series of clicks reminiscent of a stone skimming across a frozen lake or a ping-pong ball bouncing to a stop. This call is most often heard during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.


Breeding occurs from February to September, with the Indian nightjar laying two marbled creamy pink eggs directly on the ground. The incubating bird's plumage provides excellent camouflage. The chicks hatch with open eyes, covered in down, and are capable of sitting upright and vocalizing weakly.

Diet and Feeding

The Indian nightjar is crepuscular, feeding primarily at dawn and dusk. It often feeds near livestock, catching insects attracted to the animals, and is known to take advantage of insects swarming around artificial lights. Its diet consists mainly of flying insects, including mosquitoes, flies, beetles, and moths, but it will also consume larvae and eggs. This bird is sometimes seen resting on roads at night, where its eye-shine is visible in vehicle headlights.

Conservation status

The Indian nightjar is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not currently at significant risk of decline.

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Indian Nightjars on Birda

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Ashmita ,Malhotra
04 Mar 2024 - 12:48am

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