Nightjars and Goatsuckers – Ornithology


The order Caprimulgiformes consists of 4 households of birds with not solely odd appearances however odd names. Generally known as nightjars, the order is comprised of about 120 species of soft-plumaged and cryptically coloured birds together with nighthawks, potoos, frogmouths, poorwills, owlet-frogmouths and oilbirds. Resembling unusual owls, nightjars lack the talons and powerful beak; in reality their toes are so small and weak they usually stretch horizontally on the bottom or a tree department to sleep in the course of the day. Most are crepuscular or night-flying birds and lots of produce unusual and haunting sounds.

The household Caprimulgidae consists of nightjars, eared-nightjars and nighthawks.

Caprimulgus, the genus of nightjars and whip-poor-wills, derives from the Latin phrase capra, that means goat, and mulgere, to exploit, referring to an historical fantasy that the birds seen flying close to goats at nightfall had been suckling on the goats’ udders, a false impression in all probability induced by the birds’ uncommonly giant mouths.

The Podargidae consists of 15 species of frogmouths, present in India, Asia, and Australia. Frogmouths have a big, flattened, hooked invoice that appears like a frog’s mouth when it’s open. Through the day, they stretch out horizontally on tree branches and sleep. They eat bugs and small animals like frogs and mice. They usually beat their prey towards rocks after capturing it. Podargus derives from the Greek phrase for gout because the weak toes of those birds give them an uncommon gait.

Tawny Frogmouth

The Steatornithidae comprises just one species, the Oilbird This species lives solely in western and northern components of South America. It’s the solely vegetarian of the Caprimulgiformes; it completely eats oily fruits, primarily palm. Through the day, the Oilbird lives and rests in grottoes and caverns the place it additionally reproduces. Nocturnal, it makes use of echolocation, very like a bat’s sonar, to navigate. The Oilbird so known as as a result of the younger birds are so fats that indigenous individuals and early settlers as soon as collected and rendered them to provide oil for lighting and cooking. (Steatornis means “fats hen.”) Oilbirds spend their days in darkness and awake simply earlier than nightfall and depart their roosts to feed, utilizing eager nocturnal imaginative and prescient and sense of scent to find fruit, which they choose from timber whereas hovering.


The household Nyctibiidae, that means “night-feeding”, comprises seven species of birds distributed in Central and South America known as Potoos, after their name, and which occupy the identical ecological niches because the Frogmouths. Potoos resemble upright nightjars with proportionately giant heads for his or her physique measurement in addition to lengthy wings and tails. Potoos’ typical foraging method is to perch on a department and sometimes fly out within the method of a flycatcher with a purpose to snatch a passing insect.

Frequent Potoo with younger

Most Caprimulgiformes have rictal bristles, modified feathers, that stretch out from the perimeters of the jaw, as do a lot of different birds. As soon as thought to function a internet or sieve to funnel flying bugs into the mouth, rictal bristles don’t have any direct position in insect seize however as a substitute function sensory units to supply data to the hen concerning its flight pace and orientation.



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