White-winged Nightjar is a small, sexually dimorphic caprimulgid of the open savannas of central South America. The extensive white in the wings and tail of the adult male is unmistakable, and is exhibited during display flights performed at small arenas during the breeding season. This striking visual display is largely at the expense of vocal communication, with the species lacking the far-carrying calls typical of many other nightbirds, and males instead producing a dull mechanical noise during display flights. In contrast, the female – which appears to carry out all the incubation, brooding and chick provisioning duties – lacks any white markings in the plumage, and is superficially similar to the female Sickle-winged Nightjar (Eleothreptus anomalus) or Little Nightjar (Setopagis parvula).
Although there are historical records from two additional localities in Brazil, White-winged Nightjar is currently known from only four sites in northern Bolivia, south central Brazil and eastern Paraguay. As a consequence of this restricted distribution, and the ongoing degradation of its cerrado habitat, the species is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Nevertheless, it is likely that the species persists undetected at other sites within the large area encompassed by existing localities, and the identification and survey of potentially suitable campo grassland sites remains a priority.