Ladder-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis climacocerca

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


  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Ladder-tailed Nightjar
eBird range map for Ladder-tailed Nightjar

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

Ladder-tailed Nightjar is widespread in Amazonia, ranging from eastern Colombia south to Bolivia, and east to the Guianas and eastern Brazil.

Ladder-tailed Nightjar typically is restricted to the lowlands. The known upper elevational limit in Colombia, for example, is as low as 400 m (Hilty and Brown 1986), and only 350 m in Venezulea (Hilty 2003). It primarily occurs below 400 m in Ecuador, but locally is found up to 1000 m (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). Similarly, in Peru it primarily occurs below 600 m, but, remarkably, it is reported up to 2600 in some intermontane valleys (Schulenberg et al. 2010). The reported elevational range in Bolivia is 100-1200 m (Hennessey et al. 2003).

Distribution outside the Americas

Endemic to the Americas.


Ladder-tailed Nightjar occupies riverine habitats (Braun et al. 2000), specifically sand bars and river islands (Hilty and Brown 1986, Sick 1993). Bokermann (1978) observed that males of the species were common along a river and often rested on the sand or in bamboo thickets. Parker et al. (1972) describe the habitat as rivers and oxbow lakes, including shores, thickets, and cane stands surrounding the water. In Suriname, the habitat is described as "stones and rocks in rivers and…stony riverbanks" (Haverschmidt and Mees 1994).

Historical changes

None reported.

Fossil history

None reported.

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.