Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius)


French: Engoulevent du désert German: Pharaonenziegenmelker Spanish: Chotacabras egipcio

Caprimulgus aegyptius

M. H. C. Lichtenstein

, 1823,

upper Egypt


Asian populations (E of Syria) sometimes separated as race arenicolor, but variation is clinal, birds increasing in size towards E. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. saharae Erlanger, 1899 – C & EC Morocco, N (and occasionally S) Algeria, C Tunisia, probably NW Libya, and possibly E towards N Egypt; winters in W Sahel.
  • C. a. aegyptius M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823 – NE Egypt and N Arabian Peninsula, S Levant and Iraq E to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, E Kazakhstan, W Tajikistan, extreme W Pakistan and SE Iran; winters in E Sahel.
  • Descriptive notes

    24–26 cm; male 68–93 g, 1female 70 g. Sexually dimorphic, though not greatly so. Upperparts sandy-grey or greyish-buff, lightly spotted blackish-brown; indistinct... read more


    Song of male is a long series of purring “kowrr” notes; sings from ground, mainly at dusk and dawn... read more


    Typically deserts and semi-deserts, often close to water; also arid plains of sand or clay with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes beetles, bugs, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, termites and mosquitoes. Forages low over ground near wells and bushes,... read more


    Breeds mid-Mar to Jun in Morocco (longer in wet years), mid-Apr to mid-Jun in Algeria and Tunisia, and from mid-May in Turkmenistan.... read more


    Nominate race migratory in much of range, partially sedentary in Egypt. Leaves breeding grounds by... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread from Tarfaya to Taouz in ­Morocco; formerly common in Tunisia but now apparently scarce; locally scarce to common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. (2019). Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius). 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 19 November 2019).