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Nightjar: European

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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wildtuinman
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Nightjar: European

Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Nov 06, 2006 7:46 am

Picked this (very unfortunately) dead bird up yesterday.

Just to show everyone how difficult it is to id these birds. It took me a good 30mins to make deadsure that I id this one.

{I didn't show the face in the picture for the pure reason that no one likes to see a dead bird.}

Shot 1:

Image

Note the lack of white on the wing bars, ruling out species like fiery-necked, freckled and rufous-cheeked. Possible species: female pennant-winged (rufous wing spots) and european.

Shot 2:

Image

No white outer tail feathers... freckled and rufous-cheeked is ruled out.

Shot 3:

Image

The primaries show distinct extended dark colouring towards the tips which ruled out female pennant-winged.

An additional tip:

Whilst being there the only nocturnal birds I did hear were spotted-thickknee and pearl-spotted owlet(which was interesting, as they may go "silent" this time of the year.)

Courtesey African Birds and Birding

For copy right issues I have chosen only to post the url. You need to register as a member to see the link though. It is free however.

Thus not hearing any nightjar sound could very well point to the "silent" european species as a good starting point.
Last edited by wildtuinman on Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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bert
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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.

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Unread postby Snoobab » Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:09 am

Your ID is spot on. It is in fact a female European Nightjar.

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wildtuinman
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:17 pm

Thanks Snoobab for adding the gender. :wink:
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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
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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?

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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

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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.
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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
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wildtuinman
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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.

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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.
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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...

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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


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