Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Freckled Nightjar (Caprimulgus tristigma)


French: Engoulevent pointillé German: Fleckennachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras pecoso
Other common names: Freckled Rock Nightjar

Caprimulgus tristigma


, 1840,

Gondar, north Ethiopia


Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. t. sharpei Alexander, 1901 – Guinea and N Sierra Leone E to W Nigeria, W Cameroon, N Equatorial Guinea and C Central African Republic.
  • C. t. pallidogriseus R. H. Parker & Benson, 1971 – Nigeria (details unclear, perhaps on Jos Plateau).
  • C. t. tristigma Rüppell, 1840 – Ethiopia, S South Sudan and NE DRCongo S to Burundi and N Tanzania.
  • C. t. lentiginosus A. Smith, 1845 – W Angola, NW & WC Namibia and W South Africa.
  • C. t. granosus Clancey, 1965 – SE DRCongo, Zambia and S Tanzania S to NE & E South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    26–28 cm; male 70–100 g, female 69–91 g. Sexually dimorphic. Upper­parts and wing-coverts blackish-brown, profusely spotted and speckled white, pale... read more


    Song of male is a variable “whow, whow, whow” or “ow-whow, ow-whow”,... read more


    Typically, rocky terrain with vegetation: outcrops, rocky or boulder-strewn hills, kopjes and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet poorly studied. Feeds on moths, winged termites and beetles. Foraging methods not fully documented. Forages over rocks, rocky... read more


    Breeds Jan to perhaps May in Nigeria, May–Jun in Ethiopia, Kenya and NE Zaire, late Aug to Nov in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia... read more


    Poorly known. Although appears to be mainly sedentary, some populations may undertake local... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common throughout much of range and locally abundant in some countries or regions. Uncommon and local in Ghana; locally fairly common in Togo... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. (2020). Freckled Nightjar (Caprimulgus tristigma). 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 28 February 2020).