phylum class subclass order monotypic order suborder family


The Caprimulgidae family is the largest family in the order Caprimulgiformes. Nightjars measure 6 to 16 inches (15 to 40 centimeters) from head to tail. Their weight ranges from 0.7 to 6.6 ounces (20 to 188 grams). Plumage (feather) color includes brown, gray, brownish yellow, and rufous (reddish brown). Those colors form patterns that help nightjars hide in trees.

The nightjar has a large head with large eyes that provide the strong vision needed to see during the night. The bird's small bill opens to reveal a large gape, which is the width of the mouth when open. Nightjars have short legs and long wings and tails.

Nighthawks, a group of nightjars, don't have bristles, and they usually have longer tails and wings than nightjars.


Nightjar species are found throughout most of the world. No species live in the Arctic, Antarctic, and some oceanic islands.

Some nightjar species migrate across continents. These include European nightjars that breed in Europe and spend the winter in Africa.


Nightjars live in habitats ranging from semi-arid deserts to rainforests, where abundant rainfall produces plentiful growth. The birds occur in deciduous forests where trees shed leaves and coniferous forests that do not undergo seasonal changes. Nightjars also live in grassland areas with fewer trees.

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