Eurasian nightjat (en); noitibó-da-Europa (pt); engoulevent d'Europe (fr); chotacabras gris (es); ziegenmelker (de)
These birds breed throughout Europe, with the exception of Iceland, northern Scotland and northern Scandinavia. Then, through Turkey, southern Russia and the Caucasus, into Iraq and Iran, and all the way to Kazakhstan, Pakistan and western China. They winter in sub-Saharan Africa, in the western parts of the Sahel, and along the Indian ocean coast, from Somalia down to South Africa.
Eurasian nightjars are 24-28 cm long and have a wingspan of 52-59 cm. They weigh 67-78 g.
They mostly breed in heathland, moorland, sand dunes and young conifer plantations, requiring low, sparse vegetation to nest in. They forage on a wider range of habitats, preferring heathlands, deciduous or mixed woodlands, orchards, riparian and freshwater habitats, and gardens.
Eurasian nightjars hunt for insects on the wing, from dusk until dawn. Their prey includes moths, flies, craneflies, beetles, and ants.
These breed in May-August. The nests are selected by males and are usually a shallow scrape on bare ground amongst heather or bracken. There the females lays 1-3 creamy white eggs mottled with brown and purple. The eggs are incubated for 17-18 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 16-17 days after hatching. If the first brood is produced early in the season, a second brood may be possible.
IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and a global population estimated at 2-6 million individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction, pesticide use reducing the availability of food, disturbance and poor winter survival in their African wintering grounds. Despite this the species is not considered threatened at present.