Notice for readers: On March 31, Neotropical Birds will be integrated into the new Birds of the World, a powerful research database offering species accounts for every species on earth. Learn more at While Birds of the World is a subscription service, we remain committed to offering this content to Neotropical Birds contributors and to those unable to pay for it through our scholarship program. Stay tuned.

Pygmy Nightjar Nyctipolus hirundinaceus

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Caprimulgidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Andrea Alfano

Pygmy Nightjar is endemic to northeastern Brazil. Despite its restricted geographic range, three subspecies of Pygmy Nightjar generally are recognized, one of them only recently described; these subspecies differ clinally in overall coloration, from the palest populations in the north to the darkest in the south. Pygmy Nightjar is distributed over the northeast of the country from northern Ceará south to Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais. Improved knowledge of the species’ distribution and abundance has led to it being downlisted from Near Threatened in the 1990s to Least Concern in the present day. As befits its name, Pygmy Nightjar is a very small nightjar with a comparatively large white throat patch, and, in the male, small white patches in the primaries . Pygmy Nightjar most easily is seen at forest borders, especially in areas of rocks interspersed by clumps of vegetation, where this nightjar can be located at its day roosts.


© Linda Macaulay

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Alfano, A. (2014). Pygmy Nightjar (Nyctipolus hirundinaceus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.