Ladder-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis climacocerca

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Caprimulgidae
  • Polytypic: 5 subspecies
  • Authors: Maria Smith


In view of how widespread and common Ladder-tailed Nightjar is, there is surprisingly little information on its reproductive biology. Breeding is reported from January and February in Venezuela (specimens in breeding condition), and a nest with eggs was found in adjacent northern Brazil in December (Friedmann 1948); in March in Guyana (specimen in breeding condition; Blake 1950); in November in French Guiana (fledged young; Ingels and Cleere 2007); in July in southeastern Colombia (nests with eggs; Hilty and Brown 1986); in September and October in Bolivia (nests with eggs and chicks; Maccormick and MacLeod 2004); and in August in south central Brazil (nest with eggs; Bokermann 1978).

There is no nest as such; the eggs are laid in a shallow depression or scrape on the ground in sand or fine gravel, sometimes amidst driftwood or a site shaded by scrub, and other times in more exposed situations. (Bokermann 1978, Hilty and Brown 1986, Maccormick and MacLeod 2004). The clutch is two, and the eggs are cream or olive, heavily speckled with brown (Friedmann 1948, Bokermann 1978, Hilty and Brown 1986, Maccormick and MacLeod 2004). Mean egg dimensions are 27.4 x 19.7 mm for nominate climacocerca (range 26.0-28.8 x 19.0-20.1 mm, n = 6; Holyoak 2001), and 26.3 x 19.0 mm for schomburgki (range 25.7-27.1 x 18.6 x 19.4 mm, n = 4; Holyoak 2001).

Recommended Citation

Smith, M. (2015). Ladder-tailed Nightjar (Hydropsalis climacocerca), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.