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10 Fascinating Facts About the Unique Standard-winged Nightjar

Standard-winged Nightjar, also known as Caprimulgus longipennis is a medium-sized bird that belongs to the Caprimulgidae family. This bird is mostly found in Africa, particularly in the dry savannas and scrublands.

It is mostly active at night, but its presence can be distinguished during the day by its distinctive plumage and unique vocalizations. This article aims to educate readers about the identification, plumage, molts, and similarities to other bird species of the Standard-winged Nightjar.


The Standard-winged Nightjar is peculiar in appearance and can be identified quite easily. It has long wings which extend beyond the tail and distinctive white patches on the wings that are visible in flight.

The birds underparts range from greyish-brown to pale white, with bars on the breast and belly. Its head is quite small with a large and wide mouth.

The eyes are large and black, which provides excellent visibility during the night.

Similar Species

The Standard-winged Nightjar has a few similar species which can be quite confusing. The closely related species include Pennant-winged Nightjar and Freckled Nightjar.

However, the Pennant-winged Nightjar can be distinguished from the Standard-winged Nightjar by its white patches on the outer wing and a distinctive shape that is more streamlined. While the Freckled Nightjar, on the other hand, has more freckles appearing on its plumage than the Standard-winged Nightjar.


The Standard-winged Nightjar has a distinctive plumage that is used to distinguish them from other caprimulgids. The birds plumage is sexually dimorphic, with the male having a white spot on his forehead, while the female lacks it.

The males plumage is also more conspicuous than the females, with more pronounced markings on the neck and lower parts of the body.


The Standard-winged Nightjar undergoes two molts in a year. During the pre-basic molt, the bird replaces its feathers between August and September.

While the pre-alternate molt occurs between March and May, and it replaces its feathers again. The primaries are the last feathers to be molted, especially during the pre-alternate molt.


In conclusion, Standard-winged Nightjar is a fascinating bird species with unique characteristics. The birds distinctive plumage, vocalizations, and migration patterns make it an interesting subject for bird enthusiasts and researchers alike.

With the detailed information provided, birdwatchers and nature lovers can easily identify and appreciate this bird species. Standard-winged Nightjar, scientifically referred to as Caprimulgus longipennis, is a bird species in the family Caprimulgidae.

This species is native to Africa and is primarily found in arid regions of the continent. Over time, the Standard-winged Nightjar has undergone a series of systematics and historical changes that have impacted its classification, distribution, and related species.

This article will provide an expansion on the topics of systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes to distribution.

Systematics History

The systematics history of Standard-winged Nightjar is complex and has gone through several reclassifications by different ornithologists. In the past, it was classified under the genus Eurostopodus, Phalaenoptilus, and Hydropsalis before being assigned to Caprimulgus.

The classification of Standard-winged Nightjar has been based on various criteria, including vocalizations and morphology. It was only in the 21st century that DNA-based approaches were utilized to clarify the evolutionary relationships among Caprimulgidae family members.

Geographic Variation

Standard-winged Nightjar is distributed across the African continent. However, it exhibits geographic variation in morphology and vocalizations across its range.

The differences observed among the populations are due to environmental and ecological factors such as varying temperatures, rainfall, altitude, and vegetation type.


Standard-winged Nightjar is classified into four subspecies based on morphological differences. These are Caprimulgus longipennis longipennis found in West Africa, Caprimulgus longipennis pallidipennis found in East Africa, Caprimulgus longipennis zambezensis found in southern Africa, and Caprimulgus longipennis senegalensis found in Senegal and surrounding regions.

These subspecies exhibit differences in wing length, the shape of the outer rectrices, and the color of the upperparts and underparts.

Related Species

The Standard-winged Nightjar is closely related to other Caprimulgidae family members such as Freckled Nightjar (C. tristigma), Pennant-winged Nightjar (C.

vexillarius), and Square-tailed Nightjar (C. fossii).

These species share several morphological and ecological traits with the Standard-winged Nightjar. For instance, they are all nocturnal, have cryptic plumage for camouflage, and have a large mouth for efficient insect capture during flight.

However, they exhibit differences in vocalizations, breeding habitat, and distribution.

Historical Changes to Distribution

Historically, Standard-winged Nightjar was distributed across the African continent. However, recent anthropogenic activities such as deforestation, overgrazing, and poaching have affected its distribution and abundance.

Habitat loss is the primary driver of the decline and range contraction of the Standard-winged Nightjar. The species is also affected by climate change, which alters its breeding and foraging habitats.

In conclusion, Standard-winged Nightjar is a species of bird that has undergone various systematics and historical changes that have impacted its classification, distribution, and related species. The geographic variation, subspecies, and related species of this bird add to its biological diversity.

The historical changes to the distribution of Standard-winged Nightjar serve as a wake-up call for conservationists and policymakers to implement adequate measures to protect and conserve the species. Standard-winged Nightjar is a bird species that inhabits arid and semi-arid regions in Africa.

Its unique morphological and behavioral adaptations allow it to survive in these harsh environments. This expansion will focus on the habitat, movements, and migration patterns of Standard-winged Nightjar.


Standard-winged Nightjar is found in a variety of habitats in Africa. The species is primarily distributed across savannas and open woodlands, where it roosts and feeds on the ground.

These birds also inhabit areas with sparse vegetation cover, such as deserts, where they make use of rocks and boulders to perch and camouflage. The species prefers habitats with a wide range of flying insects, which is its primary source of food.

Standard-winged Nightjar nests on the ground in open spaces and relies on its cryptic plumage to avoid detection by predators such as snakes and raptors.


Standard-winged Nightjar is mainly sedentary, and its movements are primarily associated with finding suitable breeding and foraging habitats. However, weather patterns such as rainfall can also influence their movements.

During wet seasons, the birds move to areas with higher insect populations. There have also been reports of seasonal altitudinal migrations within the range of this species, with birds moving to higher elevations during the hot and dry seasons to avoid the heat.


Standard-winged Nightjar is not known to undertake long-distance migrations. However, the species is known to make some movement to find better breeding and foraging habitats within their range.

There are also occasional reports of vagrants straying outside the normal range during migration periods. The subspecies Caprimulgus longipennis zambezensis breeding range is seasonal, and the species migrates to northern Tanzania and Zambia during the non-breeding season.

Climate change is also a significant factor that can impact the migration patterns of Standard-winged Nightjar. The unpredictable climatic conditions can alter the environmental cues that birds use to time their migration.

These changes can impact the timing and success of breeding, migration, and survival of the species. In conclusion, Standard-winged Nightjar is a bird species that is mainly sedentary, with movements and migration activities associated with finding suitable habitats and weather patterns.

The species is found in a range of habitats from open savannas to semi-arid deserts, where it survives by foraging on insects. The expansion of human settlements and climate change are major threats to the habitat of this species.

Conservation of Standard-winged Nightjar includes protecting the existing habitat, monitoring their movements, and initiating conservation actions to mitigate climate change impacts. Standard-winged Nightjar is a bird species that possesses several adaptations that allow it to survive in arid environments.

The species primarily feeds on flying insects and uses its behavioral and morphological adaptations to forage efficiently. Additionally, Standard-winged Nightjar is known for its unique vocalizations that are associated with mating and territory defense.

This expansion will focus on the diet, foraging behavior, metabolism, and vocalizations of the species.

Diet and Foraging


Standard-winged Nightjar is primarily nocturnal and feeds on flying insects such as moths, beetles, and termites. The species captures its prey while in flight, usually by flying with an open mouth and trapping the insects in the large gape.

The bird’s jaw muscles and elastic skin allow it to open its beak wide and create an airflow that pulls the prey into the mouth. Standard-winged Nightjars usually feed at night when insect activity is high.

They forage singly or in groups of two or three individuals, roosting during the day and hunting at night.


The diet of Standard-winged Nightjar is primarily composed of insects, and the species has been reported to eat up to 500 insects per night. The diet can vary depending on the local habitat and insect abundance.

For example, in areas with a high abundance of moths, Standard-winged Nightjars predominantly feed on moths. However, in regions with a high abundance of termites, they will usually switch to a mostly termite-based diet.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Standard-winged Nightjar has unique adaptations that allow it to regulate its body temperature and metabolism efficiently. The species has a specialized arrangement of blood vessels around its nasal cavity, which allows it to rapidly adjust its body temperature.

Additionally, Standard-winged Nightjars often sit in the moonlight with their mouths open allowing warm air to circulate in and out of their respiratory system. This behavior helps reduce heat stress by increasing airflow and evaporative cooling through their respiratory system.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Standard-winged Nightjar is known for its distinctive vocalization, primarily used for mating and territory defense. The male has a complex vocal repertoire that consists of clicks, hoots, trills, and whistles.

During the breeding season, the male Standard-winged Nightjar produces an explosive “chirrup” call that can be heard over a kilometer away. Females can also produce vocalizations; however, their calls are not as complex as those of the males.

Standard-winged Nightjars vocalizations have some similarities to those of other Caprimulgidae family members, but it has unique calls that are distinguishable from other species. The birds use their specialized vocalizations to communicate information such as territory boundary, sexual maturity, and mating readiness.

In conclusion, Standard-winged Nightjar is a bird species that employs unique behavioral and morphological adaptations to survive in arid environments. The species primarily feeds on flying insects and forages at night using its specialized gape and jaw muscles.

Additionally, the species has a unique arrangement of blood vessels around its nasal cavity that allows for efficient temperature regulation. Standard-winged Nightjar is also known for its distinctive vocalizations, with a complex repertoire that it uses mainly for mating and territory defense.

Standard-winged Nightjar is a bird species that is well adapted to arid environments in Africa. The species exhibits unique behaviors associated with locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, and breeding.

Additionally, Standard-winged Nightjar has experienced changes in population dynamics due to anthropogenic activities and habitat fragmentation. This expansion will focus on the behavior, breeding, demography, and populations of the species.



Standard-winged Nightjar has a distinctive flying style characterized by slow, fluttering wingbeats, and a buoyant and erratic flight. The species uses its wings and tail to maneuver and capture flying insects in the air.

The birds cryptic plumage allows it to camouflage with the surrounding environment, which aids in avoiding predators.

Self Maintenance

Standard-winged Nightjar has evolved several behavioral and morphological adaptations to cope with arid environments. One of these adaptations is feather maintenance, with the bird taking time to preen and bathe regularly.

Bathing can occur in rain puddles or dust baths, where the bird fluffs its feathers and shakes off any excess dust. The species also engages in sunbathing, where the bird spreads its wings and feathers to expose its skin to direct sunlight.

This behavior helps regulate the bird’s body temperature.

Agonistic Behavior

Standard-winged Nightjar can exhibit aggressive or defensive behaviors when protecting their nesting site or territory. This behavior includes “butterfly” flight that can divert the predator’s attention or feign injury to attract the predator away from the nest.

However, most of the species’ agonistic behavior is vocal, with the species using unique calls to defend their territory.

Sexual Behavior

Standard-winged Nightjar has a distinct reproductive behavior with males defending territories and engaging in aerial displays to attract mates. Mating displays include the explosive “chirrup” call, where the male produces a loud vocalization, attracting the female.

Males also engage in aerial displays, such as acrobatic wing clapping and diving displays, to attract females.


Standard-winged Nightjar breeding habits vary according to geographic location, although breeding is generally dependent on the rainy season. During this period, males establish territories and engage in territorial disputes with other males.

Females lay a single egg directly on the ground. The male provides no incubation, and the female is the primary caretaker of the egg.

The incubation period is approximately 20 to 25 days, with the chick being semi-precocial when hatched.

Demography and Populations

Standard-winged Nightjar populations across Africa have been declining in areas where their habitats have degraded.

Habitat loss and fragmentation due to overgrazing, deforestation, and bush encroachment are the primary causes of population declines.

In addition, Standard-winged Nightjar faces other threats such as predation, agricultural activities, poisoning, and hunting. Despite these threats, conclusive estimates of Standard-winged Nightjar populations are difficult due to their nocturnal habits and cryptic nature.

However, recent studies have suggested stable populations in various parts of their range, while other populations exhibit decline. The species is not listed as globally threatened, but many of its subspecies are considered at risk of local extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

In conclusion, Standard-winged Nightjar is a species of bird that has evolved various morphological and behavioral adaptations to cope with arid environments. The species exhibits unique behavior associated with locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, and sexual behavior.

Breeding habits of Standard-winged Nightjar are variable due to different habitat conditions across its range. The species has experienced local population declines due to anthropogenic activities, but more research is necessary to determine the long-term survival of this species.

In conclusion, Standard-winged Nightjar is a fascinating bird species that has a unique set of biological and behavioral adaptations that allow it to survive in arid environments across Africa. The species has undergone various systematics, historical, and population changes, which impact its classification, distribution, and local populations.

Despite facing threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, Standard-winged Nightjar exhibits stable populations in some parts of its range. The species’ unique vocalizations, locomotion, foraging, self-maintenance, sexual behavior, agonistic behavior, and breeding habits contribute to the species’ diversity, ecological importance, and evolutionary history.

Protecting and conserving this species is critical to ensure the continued existence of this unique bird species in Africa’s fragile ecosystems.

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