Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Donaldson-Smith's Nightjar (Caprimulgus donaldsoni)


French: Engoulevent des épines German: Dornbusch-Nachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras espinero

Caprimulgus donaldsoni


, 1895,

Hargeysa, Somalia




NW Somalia and E Ethiopia S to NE Tanzania; possibly also SE South Sudan.

Descriptive notes

18–19 cm; male 21–36 g, female 26–36 g. Sexually dimorphic, but only slightly so. Smallest African nightjar, although marginally so versus C. nubicus... read more


Song of male is a series of melodious, high-pitched whistles, “tu-wee, tiu”, each... read more


Mainly arid or semi-arid scrubland and Acacia bush country, also wooded wadis, from sea-... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes ants, grasshoppers, moths (with wingspan up to 35 mm), beetles (up to 15 mm long) and caterpillars. Forages by hawking after... read more


Poorly documented. Breeds May–Jun in Somalia, Mar in Ethiopia, and possibly Aug–Oct in Kenya. No nest, eggs laid usually on... read more


Poorly understood and possibly sedentary in parts of its range; common in Ilemi Triangle (S Sudan)... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Widespread and locally common to abundant up to 1400 m throughout range, less common at higher altitudes. Seasonally common in suitable habitat in SE... read more

Recommended citation

Cleere, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Donaldson-Smith's Nightjar (Caprimulgus donaldsoni). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).