Female nightjar on nest


Nightjars are most active at dawn and dusk when they hunt for moths, beetles and crane flies. They demonstrate astonishing aerial agility as they execute rapid twists and turns in pursuit of their prey. Nightjars are summer visitors to the UK, which is right at the western tip of their breeding range that extends from Africa to Mongolia. During courtship, the male attracts a mate by calling with a loud ‘churring’ call that contains 1,900 notes per minute. Nightjars have an unusual serrated middle claw which they use like an inbuilt comb to preen their feathers.

Scientific name: Caprimulgus europaeus

Rank: Species

Common names:

European nightjar

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Map showing the distribution of the Nightjar taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Nightjar can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Nightjar distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Birds
  5. Caprimulgiformes
  6. Caprimulgidae
  7. Caprimulgus
  8. Nightjar

BBC News about Nightjar