Grey nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka)


The grey nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka) is a species of nightjar found in East Asia. It is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the jungle nightjar (C. indicus), its South Asian relative.

Grey nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka)

Grey nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka (synonym, Caprimulgus indicus), Temminck & Schlegel, 1845, also known as the gray nightjar, Indian jungle nightjar, Japanese nightjar, or as the (Ceylon) highland nightjar, photographed at Hong Kong, a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.

Image: Marie-Louise Ng, 14 November 2011 (with permission) [velociraptorize].
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Question: This lovely Chinese mystery bird is part of a taxonomic family that is notoriously difficult to identify. However, there are a number of field marks that will help you with your ID — including one behaviour! What are those field marks? Can you identify this bird’s taxonomic family and species?

Response: This is a grey nightjar, Caprimulgus jotaka, a medium-sized member of the taxonomic family, Caprimulgidae. The caprimulgids are crepuscular or nocturnal birds with long pointed wings, short legs and short bills surrounded by rictal bristles (but they’ve got big mouths). They prey on moths and other large night-flying insects that they catch in flight.