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European Nightjar

About European Nightjar

This bird is long-bodied, short-legged, with small flattened head, short bill, long wings and tail. Plumage cryptic grayish-brown, spotted and barred with tawny and dark brown. Male has white patches on tips of its wings and other tail feathers that are visible in flight.

The female bird lays her eggs in a shallow scrape on the ground, usually among dead leavves and twigs, in the late spring and summer. It has 2 creamy grayish-white eggs, spotted or streaked with yellowish brown or dark brown; incubated by female in daytime, male takes the night, for 18 days. The female is known to start a second brood while the male looks after the first.

The European Nightjar hunts its insect prey like a night-flying swallow, wheeling and darting through the gloom to snatch its prey out of the air. Its bill is small but has a huge gape, fringed with stiff sensory bristles to make sure of every catch. It hunts by sight, and is most active as the sun goes down or on moonlit nights. In the daytime, it roosts on the ground or lying along a branch, concealed by its camouflage.