Caprimulgus fossii (Square-tailed nightjar, Mozambique nightjar) 

Laeveldnaguil [Afrikaans]; Datiwa (generic name for nightjar) [Shona]; Malwelwe (generic term for nightjar) [Swazi]; Kubhasti (generic term for nightjar) [Tsonga]; Gabonnachtzwaluw [Dutch]; Engoulevent du Mozambique [French]; Gabunnachtschwalbe [German]; Noitibó de Moçambique [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Strigiformes > Family: Caprimulgidae

Caprimulgus fossii (Square-tailed nightjar Mozambique nightjar) 

Square-tailed nightjar, Ingwelala Nature Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa. [photo Lizet Grobbelaar ©]

The Square-tailed nightjar is occurs across Africa south of the Sahel semi-desert, preferring open areas with sandy soil, such as Acacia savanna, miombo woodland, etc. It is insectivorous, feeding mainly on beetles, grasshoppers and moths. It mainly hunts just after sunset, searching for prey from a low perch, then hawking any insect that passes by. It nests in shallow, natural depressions in sandy soil or fine gravel, usually in bare, open areas with little vegetation, such as cultivated fields. It lays 1-2, usually 2 eggs, which are incubated mainly by the female for about 14-17 days. The chicks can walk around soon after hatching, becoming fully independent after a month or two of parental care.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across Africa south of the Sahel, from the DRC through to southern Africa. Here it is common in north-eastern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip), northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and eastern South Africa. It generally prefers open areas with coarse sand and bush, such as Acacia savanna, miombo woodland and dune scrub, as it requires lots of open sand for nesting and roosting.

Distribution of Square-tailed nightjar in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

Food 

It is insectivorous, feeding mainly on beetles, grasshoppers and moths. It typically hunts just after sunset, searching for prey from a low perch, then hawking any insect that passes by. It also forages around electric lights and campfires, feeding on any insects attracted to them. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • It nests in shallow, natural depressions in sandy soil or fine gravel, usually in bare, open areas with scarce vegetation, such as cultivated fields.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-December.
  • It lays 1-2, usually two eggs, which are incubated mainly by the female for about 14-17 days.
  • The chicks can walk around soon after hatching, becoming fully independent after a month or two of parental care.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact widespread and common.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 
 

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