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Pygmy Nightjar - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Fritz73
Potengi, Brazil, 30 August 2017
Nyctipolus hirundinaceus


16 - 20cm (6¼-7¾ in).

  • Greyish-brown upperparts and wing-coverts, densely speckled greyish-white or tawny and buff
  • No nuchal collar, no scapular pattern
  • Thin whitish supercilium and indistinct buff submoustachial stripe
  • Large white patch on throat with broad cinnamon-buff band below
  • Brown underparts, densely spotted and barred pale buff and greyish-white, becoming buff barred brown on flanks and belly
  • Male with white spot on four outermost primaries and white tips to two outermost tail feathers
  • Female with smaller wing spots and no white on tail

Similar species

Little Nightjar is browner and more variegated with blackish-brown scapulars broadly edged buff and with indistinct nuchal collar and no supercilium. Least Nighthawk is usually browner, more variable in colour and with a smaller white throat patch and whiter underparts.


Endemic to Eastern Brazil.
A restricted-range species. Considered endemic to caatinga of northeast Brazil, but in the 1980's a population in Colatina has been recorded, suggesting further populations may possibly await discovery.


This species was formerly included in the genus Caprimulgus.


Three subspecies recognized[1]:

  • N.h. cearae in eastern Brazil (Ceará to extreme northern Bahia)
  • N.h. hirundinaceus in northeast Brazil (southern Piauí to Bahia and Alagoas)
  • N.h. vielliardi in eastern Brazil (Espírito Santo)


They are to be found in woodland and cleared areas. Caatinga. They roost and nest in gravelly areas.



Presumably feeds on insects.
Forages in open country.


Not well known. Recorded nest-sites beside dirt roads and tracks.


Probably sedentary.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1999. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 5: Barn-Owls to Hummingbirds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334252

Recommended Citation

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