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Nightjars: Caprimulgidae

Gray Nightjar (caprimulgus Indicus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Gray nightjars are gray with other plumage coloring that includes brown, black, reddish brown, brownish yellow, and white. Birds range in length from 8.3 to 11.4 inches (21 to 29 centimeters). They weigh from 2.4 to 3.8 ounces (69 to 107 grams). The birds are also called jungle nightjars.

Geographic range: Gray nightjars breed in Asian countries including India, China, and Japan. Birds in the north migrate to Java in the winter. Gray nightjars were seen in Alaska in 2001.

Habitat: Gray nightjars live in rainforests, areas thick with trees and other growth. Birds also live in trees on farms and in other areas.

Diet: Gray nightjars eat insects.

Behavior and reproduction: The female gray nightjar lays two eggs on the ground. She incubates the clutch and may be helped by the male. The eggs hatch in sixteen to seventeen days. The young have reddish brown down (soft feathers). They grow feathers in approximately eighteen days.

Gray nightjars and people: Gray nightjars are rarely seen, but people hear them. The territorial song is said to sound like knocking.

Conservation status: Gray nightjars are not threatened, but are considered rare in India. ∎



Baicich, Paul J., and Colin J. O. Harrison. A Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1997.

Sibley, David, Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

Stuart, Chris and Tilde. Birds of Africa From Seabirds to Seed Eaters. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1999.


Burt, William. "Nightjars Are Everywhere But Just Try Finding One." Smithsonian (July 2000): 74.

Web sites:

Global Registry of Migratory Species. (accessed on May 29, 2004).

Williams, Ted. "Night Bard of Spring." National Audubon Society earth-almanac. http://magazine.audubon.org/earthalmanac/almanac0405.html#night (accessed on May 25, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsNightjars: Caprimulgidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Whip-poor-will (caprimulgus Vociferus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, NIGHTJARS AND PEOPLE