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Nightjar, Square-tailed (Mozambique)

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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DotDan
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Nightjar, Square-tailed (Mozambique)

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:11 pm

Unfortunately DotDan's pictures don't show anymore, but this is such a great discussion, it would be a sin to just purge it.

I have pretty much most come to an conclusion on most of these Nightjar ID's, but I would love to see what others think about them.

I am pretty sure that all of them are Square Tailed Nightjars, except number 2. The pic is not that great, but for some reason I just have this gut feel :twisted: about it.

They all were seen on a Lower Sabie night drive last weekend.

Number 1
Number 2
Number 3
Number 4

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:35 pm

DotDan wrote:I have pretty much most come to an conclusion on most of these Nightjar ID's, but I would love to see what others think about them.

I am pretty sure that all of them are Square Tailed Nightjars, except number 2. The pic is not that great, but for some reason I just have this gut feel :twisted: about it.

They all were seen on a Lower Sabie night drive last weekend.

Number 1
Number 2
Number 3
Number 4



DotDan, you would think these images are sufficient to draw an ID from but it just never stops to amaze me how Nightjars can resist identification, even with good pics available. For what it's worth, here are my opinions:

Numbers 1 and 3: undisputably Square-tailed Nightjar. The pale outer edge that goes the full length of the outer tail feathers is enough to clinch the ID.

Number 2: Bit of a head-scratcher but I'm leaning towards Fiery-necked Nightjar. A useful feature in separating these, which I don't think is really documented in the field guides, is the shape of the spots on the wings. On most species the wing spots are teardrop shaped but on Fiery-necked and Swamp Nightjars, they appear more rounded. It's not always a clear feature either and your bird doesn't show it perfectly but I do feel that the shape of the wing spots on yours is not the typical "mieliepit" shape that is found on Square-tailed and Rufous-cheeked.

Number 3: I'd have to reserve judgement on this one. Everything seem to point towards Square-tailed Nightjar except for the pale outer edges of the outer tail feathers. Of course, it might just be that this individual sat in such a way that the outer tail feathers didn't show well. If I had to bet my life savings, I'd opt for Square-tailed but I'm not betting my life savings.
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DotDan
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:42 pm

Ja hell Deefstes.. difficult is an understatement. The problem I had with these fellows was that I wasn't the one holding the spot light, so every time I get a shot of one.. the people scheme "oh well, just a bird" and shine deep into the distance looking for that Leopard riding on a Lion's back. :lol:

Anyway, I agree with your ID on 1 and 3.. no doubt in my mind regarding them being Square Tailed.

Number 3 is the most puzzling one for me.. I too thought Fiery Necked when I saw it.

I might have one or two more angle's of this bird if anybody is interested?

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:53 pm

DotDan wrote:Number 3 is the most puzzling one for me.. I too thought Fiery Necked when I saw it.

I might have one or two more angle's of this bird if anybody is interested?


I assume you meant "Number 2"?

But send those other angles, they can only help.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:01 pm

DD,

I would say all of the above are Square-tailed.
All have the white wing bar across the forewing
All have the white tipped secondaries (a good field character to use) and
all have a clear (except no1) white line running across the scapular to the back, but with no1 you have the white outer tail feather to confirm the ID. 8)

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:11 pm

Sorry yes, meant number 2 Deefstes..

Will see what I have and post it later on ;)

Wag nou net Lizet.. you don't want to come back and disagree again :lol: :lol: (Although I do think you are right with all of them being Sqaure Tailed)

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:26 pm

DotDan wrote:Wag nou net Lizet.. you don't want to come back and disagree again :lol: :lol: (Although I do think you are right with all of them being Sqaure Tailed)


For how long am I going to regret that? :shock:

Most of the features are on your pics, so no turning back now, even no 2! What did you have to do to get one like that, windscreen in your way...? :twisted:

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:30 pm

As a matter of fact.. yes :lol:

When you are on a night drive.. you better take aim and fire.. Nightjars to some of the guides just means an irritation in the road :roll:

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Lizet Grobbelaar » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:47 pm

All jokes aside, the best feature to look for to ID Square-tailed Nightjar is the spots on the secondaries, and they are on all the pics.
Image

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby arks » Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:15 pm

Thanks to all you fundis, these last discussions (nightjars, steppe eagle) have been fascinating and very informative! :thumbs_up: Also encouraging to those of us struggling that we're not alone :wink:
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby anne-marie » Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:41 pm

like I will say again and again... one of the most interesting thread... with Raptors
thanks a lot for the lesson :gflower:
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Dabchick » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:52 am

I thought all four the night jars looked the same!, but because I can't ID night jars (except for european perching on a branch :twisted: ) I thought I was just being ignorant again :lol:

I like the pic of the square-tailed with the diagnostic features clearly indicated Lizet! Could you do the same for the other species at some stage? :redface: :pray: :gflower:

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:56 am

Lizet Grobbelaar wrote:All jokes aside, the best feature to look for to ID Square-tailed Nightjar is the spots on the secondaries, and they are on all the pics.
Image


Thanks for the info and the illustration Lizet. I'm not arguing with you and I can easily buy the argument that DD's second bird is also a Square-tailed Nightjar, but I would like to explore this notion of spots on the secondaries, the scapular line and the foreward wingbar - simply because I still struggle with Nightjar ID more than I feel I should. Maybe it's time I open a bit of discussion on the specific features again. So sorry, you've just landed yourself in the middle of it.

First of all, I am still not always sure whether I'm looking at a bird's greater coverts or secondaries. If you had asked me which feathers the line on your illustration points to I would have said the greater upperwing coverts. Either way, I do agree that the white tips to the secondaries are a key feature of Square-tailed Nightjar but I was not aware that it is a useful feature when the bird is sitting (when it flies, they form a very noticeable white trailing edge to the wing). Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the trailing edge of the wing (tips of secondaries) fold under the tertials when the wing is folded in?

Secondly, the scapular line; Don't almost all species of Nightjar have white (or at least buff) lateral fringing to the scapulars? As a result you can see a scapular line to a greater or lesser extent on Fiery-necked Nightjar as well.

Below are two images of Fiery-necked Nightjar and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar which I've annotated to point out what I believe are the same scapular lines and spots on the greater coverts (or are those secondaries?) that you pointed out on Square-tailed. (I'm hoping our friend Niall will forgive me for scaling his images).
Image

Image

The bar on the forewing is not really seen on Fiery-necked and therefore probably a good feature to separate Square-tailed. However, it certainly is seen on Rufous-cheeked. Admittedly, Rufous-cheeked isn't really a contender if you're looking at a bird in southern Kruger but I'd love to hear your opinions on the above issues as I find separating Rufous-cheeked from Fiery-necked to be more challenging than any of the other and I really think it's about time I really get to grips with these birds.

I don't want to post too many pictures here but below is a link to another Fiery-necked Nightjar showing a very bold scapular line:
Clickety
...and another Rufous-cheeked Nightjar showing both the scapular line and the wing bar:
Clickaroo
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:59 am

Dabchick wrote:...but because I can't ID night jars (except for european perching on a branch :twisted: )...


Careful Dabchick, while the habit of European Nightjars perching lengthwise on branches are often cited, it's by no means diagnostic. I've seen Fiery-necks and Square-tails doing that as well (and I have no reason to believe that Rufous-cheeked won't also) and I've also seen Europeans sitting on the road just like you'd expect to see others.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby DotDan » Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:22 am

Fascinating stuff :D

Thanks Lizet, Deefstes. :wink:

I have been looking at those particular lines you pointed out carefully and it does make sense.. My problem I have is, that I did see some nightjars fly off on the night which was sitting all round the nightjars I took pics off, and I couldn't spot any outer white tail markings on those that I did get to see fly off. Now this could probably be a coincidence that I chose to take photo's of just the Square Tailed's :roll:

Nightjar ID's are really difficult and I believe they are so difficult because they are birds you just don't see that often, and often enough to make a good enough "giss" call on them.

Something I would like to try and find out is what Nightjar is the most common around Southern Kruger? Just out of curiosity. My bet would probably be Sqaure Tailed? I have seen them up in Punda, Satara and now all over LS. So if that is the case, then just like the African Pipit, one should probably have that mentality of "Why is it not a Square Tailed"

I really can't add too much to this debate regarding ID features but I will for damn sure continue reading as I am learning a great deal! :thumbs_up:


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