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.
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).
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