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White-tailed Nightjar - BirdForum Opus

Photo by max1
Little Tobago, February 2012
Hydropsalis cayennensis


Photo © by birdboybowley
Cuffie River Nature Resort, Tobago, 15 June 2018

20–22·5 cm (7¾-8¾)
Male: Pale grey above mottled with buffy brown and dark brown. Prominent cinnamon collar on hindneck. White throat and supercilium; buffy breast with dark, course barring some white spots; white belly.
Broad white band across primaries like Lesser Nighthawk. Tail notched, mostly white underneath. Grey and dusky above.
Female: Quite different to male. darker above and buffier below. Also has the cinnamon nuchal collar; Wings more narrowly banded with white. Tail banded buff and dusky, no white; throat and belly light ochre; dusky barring on breast with white spots.


Central and South America: found from Costa Rica to the Guianas; extreme northern Brazil.


This species was formerly included in the genus Caprimulgus.


Six subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • H. c. albicauda:
  • H. c. aperta:
  • Western Colombia to extreme northern Ecuador
  • H. c. insularis:
  • North-eastern Colombia, north-western Venezuela, Isla Margarita and adjacent islands
  • H. c. manati:
  • H. c. leopetes:
  • H. c. cayennensis:
  • Eastern Colombia to Venezuela, the Guianas and extreme northern Brazil


Open, rather dry grassy areas, bushy savannas and barren hillsides in lowlands.


Strictly nocturnal.


Their diet consists of a wide variety of insects, such as moths, flies, beetles, damselflies, crickets and grasshoppers.


The clutch consists of 2 pale reddish-buff eggs with purple or brownish markings. They are ground nesters.


  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. Ferraro, M. M. (2020). White-tailed Nightjar (Hydropsalis cayennensis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.whtnig1.01
  1. Birdforum thread discussing which genus this species belongs to
  2. Cornell Lab, Neotropical birds

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