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Nightjars: Caprimulgidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Whip-poor-will (caprimulgus Vociferus): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, NIGHTJARS AND PEOPLE

WHIP-POOR-WILL (Caprimulgus vociferus): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
GRAY NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus indicus): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Nightjar species are found throughout most of the world. No species live in the Arctic, Antarctic, and some oceanic islands.

Some nightjar species migrate across continents. These include European nightjars that breed in Europe and spend the winter in Africa.


Nightjars live in habitats ranging from semi-arid deserts to rainforests, where abundant rainfall produces plentiful growth. The birds occur in deciduous forests where trees shed leaves and coniferous forests that do not undergo seasonal changes. Nightjars also live in grassland areas with fewer trees.

Nightjars fly after prey or hunt on the ground for food such as insects, flies, beetles, ants, and caterpillars. Birds sometimes eat spiders. Larger nightjars may eat frogs and small birds.


Nightjars received their name because their loud night call jarred (disturbed) sleeping people. The birds are also known as "goatsuckers" because people wrongly thought the birds drank milk from goats and cows. Nightjars actually hunt insects near the animals.


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Animal Life ResourceBirds