Standardwinged Nightjar

The breeding male of this species has one of the most startling forms of display plumage of all birds. Having evolved to fly in poor light at dusk and dawn, nightjars generally tend to display by flying erratically or by showing unusual white patches or shapes. In this case, a huge feather grows from the middle of each wing. Seen in flight, these appear as two long, slender shafts, each supporting a big, flaglike vane at the tip. In display, the male circles above the female with vibrating wingbeats, raising his two large feathers. These feathers are lost after the breeding season. The Standard-winged Nightjar occurs in dry, stony country with scattered bushes. By day it rests on the ground, where it lies unnoticed unless disturbed. At night it catches insects on the wing. It advertises its presence to females and rival males with a shrill, churring call.

• NEST A slight, natural hollow in a bare piece of open ground.

• DISTRIBUTION Africa south of the Sahara, from Senegal east to Ethiopia; isolated population distribution in Uganda and W. Kenya.

Female vane


Species Taehymarptis melba

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