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Antrostomus noctitherus

Puerto Rican Nightjar

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Caprimulgidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Vilella, Francisco J.

Caprimulgus noctitherus

Guánica Biosphere Reserve, 12 June 1984 © Phillip J. Zwank

The Puerto Rican Nightjar is an endemic caprimulgid of the coastal and lower montane forests of southern and southwestern Puerto Rico. Its conservation status has been reclassified from Critically Endangered to Endangered based on updated information on geographic distribution (BirdLife International 2011).  Research suggests it is more abundant and widely distributed than previously thought but the species remains at risk from anthropogenic habitat loss or degradation. Puerto Rican Nightjars are more abundant in the upland forest in and around the Guánica Biosphere Reserve. However, nightjars range as far as Cabo Rojo in the extreme southwestern tip of the island, to the municipality of Guayama in southeastern Puerto Rico (Vilella and González 2009). The Puerto Rican Nightjar exhibits preference for semi-deciduous and evergreen forest types. Nightjar males sing throughout the year, though their numbers fluctuate seasonally. Typically singing is at a peak during April and May. Puerto Rican Nightjar nests have been located between late February and early July.

Like other forest caprimulgids, nightjars lay 1-2 eggs directly on the leaf litter. Both members of the pair share incubation and brooding duties (Vilella 1995). Male nightjars are commonly found incubating eggs and brooding young during daylight hours. Eggs hatch after 18-20 days. Semiprecocial chicks are capable of considerable movement and short flights 14 days post-hatching. Young nightjars remain within the nesting pair's territory for several weeks after fledging. At Guánica Forest, nightjar nests are more frequent above 100 m elevation; sites are characterized by abundant leaf litter and an open midstory beneath a closed canopy (Vilella 2008).  Nightjars forage under the canopy by sallying from favored perches. A considerable portion of nightjar habitat is located in private lands and outside protected areas. The main limiting factor to recovery of the species is destruction and modification of nightjar habitat on private lands. Establishing an expanded network of protected areas and corridors across southern Puerto Rico, and managing forest stands to promote nightjar nest habitat in public and private lands will insure the long-term persistence of the species.

Recommended Citation

Vilella, Francisco J.. 2010. Puerto Rican Nightjar (Antrostomus noctitherus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=24854

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:Tropical lowland evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Aerial
  • Foraging Behavior:Sally
  • Diet:Terrestrial invertebrates
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Scrape
  • Clutch: 1 - 2
  • IUCN Status:Endangered