White-tailed Nightjar Hydropsalis cayennensis

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

White-tailed Nightjar is reasonably common, though somewhat local, throughout its range, which extends from Costa Rica to northwestern Ecuador and northern Brazil. These nightjars occupy to open country, including savannas, pastures, and clearings. Strictly nocturnal, they roost on the ground under low vegetation during the day; at night, they forage by sallying up from the ground to catch insect prey. For this small nightjar, note the light orange-brown collar on the nape and the long, notched tail, field marks that are present in both sexes. The tail of the male is mostly white (except for the central pair of rectrices), and males have a white band across their primaries. Females lack the white tail markings and have a buffy band across their primaries. The song of the White-tailed Nightjar is a high "tik!" followed by a descending sliding whistle, but this nightjar is less vocal than many of its close relatives.


© Paul A. Schwartz

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

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