Red-necked Nightjar

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Red-necked Nightjar
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Caprimulgiformes
Family:Caprimulgidae
Genus:Caprimulgus
Species:C. ruficollis
Binomial name
Caprimulgus ruficollis
Temminck,, 1820

The Red-necked Nightjar, Caprimulgus ruficollis, is the largest nightjar which occurs in Europe. It breeds in Iberia and north Africa, and winters in tropical west Africa. It is a late migrant, seldom appearing before the end of April or beginning of May.

Open sandy heaths with trees or bushes are the haunts of this crepuscular Nightjar. It flies at dusk, most often at sundown, with an easy, silent moth-like flight; its strong and deliberate wingbeats alternate with graceful sweeps and wheels with motionless wings.

The variegated plumage resembles the European Nightjar. The adult is lichen-grey, barred and streaked with buff, chestnut and black. The under parts are barred. It is larger and longer-tailed than the more widespead species, and has a rufous neck-collar. Like other nightjars, it has a wide gape, long wings, soft downy plumage and nocturnal habits. Both sexes have white wing spots, tail sides and throat. The length is 32cm, and the wingspan 64cm.

Its call is a repetitive mechanical kyok-kyok-kyok…., which rises and falls as the bird turns its head from side to side. When it churrs, the bird lies or crouches along a branch or rail, but it will sing from a post. During courtship, and occasionally at other times, it uses a mechanical signal, a sharp cracking sound, caused by clapping the wings together over the back. Crepuscular insects, such as moths, are its food.

During the day this nightjar lies silent upon the ground, concealed by its plumage; it is difficult to detect, looking like a bit of lichen-covered twig or a fragment of bark. No nest is made; the two elongated and elliptical eggs are placed upon the bare ground; the brooding bird, sitting closely, is their best protection.

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