Introducing the Charismatic Nightjar

Editor Annette J Beveridge

by Annette J Beveridge

The elusive nightjar arrives in the UK in late April to Mid-May opting for heathland, moorland or young conifer woods in England, Wales and in southern Scotland. They are most numerous in southern England with the New Forest being a prime breeding area. The male occupies his territory and then advertises his presence, patrolling, chasing off any birds that may trespass. Fanning his tail, he holds his wings in a V shape.

European Nightjar

Masters of camouflage

With black/brown plumage resembling old leaves or tree bark, these birds are truly the masters of camouflage. During the day, they blend into the background remaining quite still. With a flat, wide head, large eyes and a bill with a large gape, the surrounding bristles help them to hunt. For identification, males have white patches on the wing and tail. They have a wingspan of 60cm and are 26-28cm in length. The average lifespan for a nightjar is 4 years.