White-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis cayennensis

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Caprimulgidae
  • Polytypic: 6 subspecies
  • Authors: Mary Margaret Ferraro


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

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

Distribution in the Americas

White-tailed Nightjar is resident in southern Central America and northern South America. It occurs in Costa Rica and Panama (Wetmore 1968, Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, Stiles and Skutch 1989). There is an apparently isolated population in the Cauca Valley of Colombia, and another in northwestern Ecuador (Hilty and Brown 1989, Schmitt and Schmitt 1990, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). White-tailed Nightjar is more continuously distributed from northern Colombia east across northern Venezuela to Trinidada, Tobago, the Guianas, and adjacent northern Brazil (Haverschmidt 1968, Snyder 1968, Hilty and Brown 1986, ffrench 1991, Tostain et al. 1992, Sick 1993, Hilty 2003). It also occurs on Martinique, on Margarita Island, and on the islands of Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire.

White-tailed Nightjar primarily occurs in the lowlands, but reaches 1200 m in Venezuela (Hilty 2003) and has been reported as high as 2100 m in Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986).

Distribution outside the Americas

Endemic to the Americas.


White-tailed Nightjar occupies open habitats such as savannas, pastures, low scrub, eroded and degraded hillsides that retain scattered bushes and thickets, scrubby grasslands, and tall weedy areas around lagoons (Haverschmidt 1968, Hilty and Brown 1989, Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Hilty 2003).

Historical changes

None reported.

Fossil history

None reported.

Recommended Citation

Ferraro, M. M. (2015). White-tailed Nightjar (Hydropsalis cayennensis), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.whtnig1.01