Caprimulgus pectoralis (Fiery-necked nightjar) 

Afrikaanse naguil [Afrikaans]; Udebeza [Xhosa]; uZavolo (also applied to European nightjar) [Zulu]; Rumbamba (generic term for nightjar) [Kwangali]; Leuwauwe [North Sotho]; Datiwa (generic name for nightjar) [Shona]; Malwelwe (generic term for nightjar) [Swazi]; Kubhasti (generic term for nightjar) [Tsonga]; Leubauba, Mmapheke, Tshogwi (all 3 are generic terms for nightjar) [Tswana]; Roesthalsnachtzwaluw [Dutch]; Engoulevent musicien [French]; Rotnacken-nachtschwalbe [German]; Noitibó-de-pescoço-dourado [Portuguese]

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Caprimulgus pectoralis (Fiery-necked nightjar) Caprimulgus pectoralis (Fiery-necked nightjar)

Fiery-necked nightjar. [photos Peter Steyn ©]

The Fiery-necked nightjar occupies a large area of Africa south of the equator, avoiding extremely arid areas, mainly occurring in well-developed woodland with dense leaf litter. It is insectivorous, feeding mainly on beetles and moths, usually hunting at dawn or dusk. The nest is a simple depression in the ground, usually in and surrounded by leaf litter. Here it usually lays 2 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 18-19 days. The chicks are cared for by both parents, and can fly strongly at about 17-18 days old. The parents usually desert their territory and chicks when they reach 30 days old, however the brood still live there for up to 150 days more before leaving.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Tanzania, southern DRC and Angola to southern Africa, where it is common and widespread in northern Namibia, northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and eastern and southern South Africa. It generally prefers well-developed woodland with dense leaf litter for nesting and roosting, such as Acacia, miombo (Brachystegia) and broad leaved woodland, also moving into plantations and gardens.

Distribution of Fiery-necked 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

  • Predators
    • Genetta (genets)
    • domestic dogs
    • humans

Food 

Insectivorous, with most of its diet made up of beetles and moths. It usually forages at dusk, before dawn or in the middle of the night, as long as the moon is full enough to provide a bit of light. Most of hunting is done from perch on a tree branch, stump or fencepost, making repeated forays out into the night, catching an insect before returning to its perch to feed. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Monogamous, solitary nester, with breeding pairs staying together their whole lives.
  • The nest is a simple depression in the ground, usually in and surrounded by dense leaf litter.
  • It typically lays two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 18-19 days; the female incubates in the day, while the male takes the night shift. If the eggs are destroyed or fail to hatch, the female often lays a replacement clutch.
  • The chicks are cared for by both parents, who perform elaborate distraction displays if disturbed from the nest, to try an lure predators away from the brood. The chicks start walking around at about eight days old, taking their first, weak flight at about 14 days old, and can fly strongly about 5-7 days later. The parents usually desert their territory and chicks when they reach 30 days old, however the brood only leave the territory approximately five months later.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact common and widespread, however its populations in Zambia and Zimbabwe have been badly affected by habitat destruction.

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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