Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Pennant-winged nightjar

Macrodipteryx vexillarius

Photo by Phil Palmer (Biodiversity Explorer)

Common name:
pennant-winged nightjar (en); noitibó-de-balanceiros (pt); engoulevent porte-étendard (fr); chotacabras cuelgacintas (es); ruderflügel (de)

Order Caprimulgiformes
Family Caprimulgidae

This African species mostly breeds south of the Equator, in Angola, Zaire, Tanzania, northern Namibia, north-east Botswana, Mozambique and the northernmost parts of South Africa. Some population migrate north towards areas from Cameroon and Nigeria, to Sudan, D. R. Congo and Uganda.

These birds are 24-26 cm long (not including the extra-long 9th primary which can grow up to twice the body length), and have a wingspan of 45-55 cm. They weigh 60-90 g with females often being heavier than males.

The pennant-winged nightjar generally prefers mature broad-leaved woodland with plenty of leaf litter, especially if it has a substratum of sand, stone or burnt ground.

They are insectivorous, doing most of their foraging over broad clearings at dusk and just before daybreak, catching prey aerially. The diet includes Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, termites, Lepidoptera, Dermaptera and Neuroptera.

The pennant-winged nightjar is a polygynous solitary nester, with male having little part in the breeding process other than fertilizing females. the breeding season takes place in September-January, with a peak in October-November. The nest is an unlined scrap in the soil, usually shaded by a tall tree, where the female lays 1-2 eggs. She than incubates the eggs alone for 15-18 days. Little is known about the development and care of the chicks.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is reported to be common and locally abundant throughout much of its very large breeding range. This species is not considered theatened at present.

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