Cayenne Nightjar Setopagis maculosa

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Caprimulgidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Arlen Papazian


Geographic Variation

Setopagis maculosa is monotypic.

Related Species

Described as Nyctipolus maculosus Todd 1920; type locality Tamanoir, French Guiana

The validity of maculosus, known with certainty only from the type, has been questioned by some authors. Griscom and Greenway (1937) declared that maculosus "cannot possibly be a distinct species"; they stated that the type is "not quite fully adult" (although not quite specifying how they reached this conclusion, or what plumage it represented), and that the type "is a single individual which varies towards [Setopagis] whitelyi [Roraiman Nightjar]". Griscom and Greenway (1937) considered whitelyi to be a subspecies of nigrescens, and so apparently considered the type of maculosus to be an individual of nigrescens showing some introgression towards whitelyi. This hypothesis seems untenable in view of what now is known regarding the distribution and biology of these taxa. Ingels (2001) reviewed the characters of maculosus, nigrescens, and whitelyi, and affirmed the morphological distinctions between all three. Each species has a different pattern of white markings in the wings and tail, and maculosus differs from both nigrescens and whitelyi by having distinct black streaks on the crown (Ingels 2001).

Although described in the genus Nyctipolus (Todd 1920), Peters (1940) classified maculosus in the genus Caprimulgus, a genus that eventually encompassed a large number of species of nightjars worldwide (Peters 1940, Dickinson 2003). Phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data, from both mitochondrial and nuclear genes, reveals that the broadly defined Caprimulgus of Peters (1940) and other authors is highly polyphyletic (Han et al. 2010, Sigurdsson and Cracraft 2014). Caprimulgus proper is entirely confined to the Old World, and New World species of "Caprimulgus" are split into several clades (Han et al. 2010, Sigurdsson and Cracraft 2014). "Caprimulgus" maculosus, known only from the holotype, was not included in these analyses. Tentatively maculosus has been classified in the genus Setopagis (e.g., Dickinson and Remsen 2013), which also includes Setopagis heterura (Todd's Nightjar), Setopagis parvula (Little Nightjar), and Setopagis whitelyi (Roraiman Nightjar).

Recommended Citation

Papazian, A. (2015). Cayenne Nightjar (Setopagis maculosa), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.