Skip to Content

Nightjar: European

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
User avatar
bert
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 17198
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:02 pm
Location: mind in SA, body in The Netherlands

Unread postby bert » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:55 am

Years ago i was very lucky to hear and witness the courtship of a pair of europeans. The male flew around a branch with his partner waiting for the show to be displayed. Male flew in circles around the tree while making a kind of very hard spinning sound.

This was in Holland and i was very lucky to witness this. Because nightjars are very rare over here.

User avatar
Boulder
Posts: 318
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:34 pm
Location: Sunshine Coast

Unread postby Boulder » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:47 pm

Gosh I know that these birds are difficult to ID and Wildtuinman just proved it...The only European Nightjar I have ever seen is the one at Letaba Shop in Summer...got some brilliant pics of it but they are Velvia and I still need to scan these slides from a couple of years ago when I still had the F5
Dawn greeting of the francolin

naomi c
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 10:55 am
Location: Centurion

Unread postby naomi c » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:37 am

While we were at Mazhou in Mapungubwe there was a nightjar roosting in a big acasia tree in front of our campsite. It was there almost every day, sitting horizontally on a branch.
May one assume that it was a European Nightjar?

User avatar
Neil Crawford
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:04 am
Location: Sweden

Unread postby Neil Crawford » Mon Jan 21, 2008 3:40 pm

I can't claim a Nightjar in SA, but up here in Sweden they are possible to see. A group of us drove into the forest one summer evening, till we got to a small lake, then we waited. Eventually this weird buzzing started up, it sounded like an old
car in too high gear, or a far-off motorcycle, the fun part was when they changed gear, I've never heard anything like it. Sometimes they stopped, and you could see them whizz
past chasing insects. There was a whole group of them around that lake, and we got to see them quite well. It was a magical experience.
What a migration though, all the way from Europe down to South Africa!
/Neil

User avatar
deefstes
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 748
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:43 pm
Location: Jo'burg

Unread postby deefstes » Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:44 pm

Howdie all,

I'm planning on popping in to Marievale on Wednesday morning before work in search of the Slaty Egrets. Anyone keen to tag along? We can either meet there or, if you live somewhere between my offices (Sandton) and Marievale I can pick you up.
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." -Homer Simpson

User avatar
Elsa
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 13963
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Ballito, KZN North Coast, South Africa

Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Elsa » Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:21 pm

This area is for general bird identification only. If you need a raptor identified go here and for LBJs you can go here.

Many of us sometime comes across a bird we just cannot identify. If you have a photo of a bird you want identified post it here and maybe one of the other forum members can help you.


---------------------

Would someone be able to please help me with which Nightjar this is.
It was sitting on a low branch in broad daylight on the H4-1 last month.

Image
Where ever you go, go with all your Heart.

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5507
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:44 am

Elsa,

The only two ways of id'ying a nightjar is by either catching it and studying the markings on the spread out wings and tail. Or by hearing its call.

From this photo I am afraid that you won't get a definite answer from me.

Your two most likely ones could be Mozambican and Fiery-necked. We flushed a Fiery-necked from next to the road last week after hearing it call right next to the car. We were lucky.

User avatar
deefstes
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 748
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:43 pm
Location: Jo'burg

Unread postby deefstes » Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:53 am

Actually, you're lucky as this one can be identified based only on the picture. But as WTM points out, in most other circumstances it would have been a very difficult task.

First clue is the fact that the bird is sitting on a branch. This is a trait very typical to European Nightjar and very atypical of any of the other nightjars.

Fortunately the bird is showing its tail very nicely in its attempt to balance I would imagine. What can be seen is that the tail has no white markings which is a field characteristic of female European Nightjar. The absence of white in the tail conclusively rules out Square-tailed Nightjar but not feale Rufous-cheeked Nightjar. However, the lack of a rufous nape does rule out female Rufous-cheeked and the pale grey line on the wing (formed by the pale grey tips of the median coverts) also points to European.

Finally, the overall grey colouration (as opposed to shades of brown) is also a very good pointer towards European.

Incidentally, while WTM is correct in saying that call is almost essential in identifying these birds, it would not have been of any use in this instance, not only because it was broad daylight when no Nightjar would be calling but also because European Nightjar does not call in its nonbreeding quarters.
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel." -Homer Simpson

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5507
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:22 am

Very interesting, thanks Deefstes.

Here I had an extensive postmortem done on an European Nightjar, if anyone is interested in any further detail as to what Deefstes had said.

Jumbo

Unread postby Jumbo » Wed Jul 02, 2008 8:39 am

naomi c wrote:While we were at Mazhou in Mapungubwe there was a nightjar roosting in a big acasia tree in front of our campsite. It was there almost every day, sitting horizontally on a branch.
May one assume that it was a European Nightjar?


Apparently the European Nightjar is the only nightjar that roosts in a tree...

User avatar
Johan van Rensburg
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Award: Birder of the Year (2014)
Posts: 2621
Awards: Birder of the Year (2014) & Sighting of the Year - Birds (2013)
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Location: Jam Street

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:28 am

Jumbo, the European nightjar is not the only nightjar to roost in trees. However, it has a peculiar way of roosting in a tree... it sits orientated ALONG a branch and not across it like birds normally do.

Jumbo

Unread postby Jumbo » Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:50 am

Johan van Rensburg wrote:Jumbo, the European nightjar is not the only nightjar to roost in trees. However, it has a peculiar way of roosting in a tree... it sits orientated ALONG a branch and not across it like birds normally do.


Thanks Johan…I learn every day 8)
The following (stunning) photo is a good example of how it roosts
European Nightjar

User avatar
Johan van Rensburg
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Award: Birder of the Year (2014)
Posts: 2621
Awards: Birder of the Year (2014) & Sighting of the Year - Birds (2013)
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Location: Jam Street

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Jul 02, 2008 11:45 am

Super shot, thanx Jumbo

naomi c
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 2439
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 10:55 am
Location: Centurion

Unread postby naomi c » Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:57 am

Thanx for the reply and photo Jumbo!

The nightjar at Mazhou also sat orientated along the branch and not across.

So experts, may I tick off European Nightjar?

User avatar
Johan van Rensburg
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Award: Birder of the Year (2014)
Posts: 2621
Awards: Birder of the Year (2014) & Sighting of the Year - Birds (2013)
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:33 pm
Location: Jam Street

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:07 pm

Post the pic first, naomi c :twisted:


Return to “Birding in Southern Africa”