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Uropsalis lyra

Lyre-tailed Nightjar

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Caprimulgidae
  • Polytypic 3 Subspecies

Authors: Van Doren, Benjamin

Uropsalis lyra

Ecuador; 5 January 2014 © Wang Hc

Lyre-tailed Nightjar is unmistakable, with the males flaunting spectacular, pale-tipped tail streamers more than twice the bird’s body length. Uncommon and local in the Andes from Venezuela south to northwestern Argentina, this nightjar occupies gorges and most rocky cliffs, often near running water, at 2500-3000 m (and sometimes much lower). These birds roost on cliff faces and in caves, often concealed by hanging vegetation, using one roost for extended periods. Excluding the tail streamers, sexes are similar. A rufous collar extends across the nape, the scapulars are generally a pale, vermiculated gray, and the primaries solid black. Females are distinguished from female Swallow-tailed Nightjars (Uropsalis segmentata), which tend to be at higher elevations, by having a vermiculated black and gray crown (rather than a dark brown crown densely spotted with rufous) and a more prominent rufous nuchal collar. Male Lyre-tailed Nightjars forage and display nocturnally from the forest edge, with brief, fluttering sallies into the open, sometimes hovering.

Recommended Citation

Van Doren, Benjamin. 2014. Lyre-tailed Nightjar (Uropsalis lyra), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Montane evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Aerial
  • Foraging Behavior:Sally
  • Diet:Terrestrial invertebrates
  • Sociality:Solitary/Pairs
  • Mating System:Polygyny
  • Nest Form:No Nest
  • Clutch: 2 - 2
  • IUCN Status:Unknown