Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka)


French: Engoulevent jotaka German: Graunachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras jotaka

Caprimulgus jotaka

Temminck and Schlegel

, 1844,



Commonly considered conspecific with C. indicus, but recently separated#R on account of its song being a rapid, percussive series of downturned, monosyllablic, whiplash “SCHurk’SCHurk’SCHurk...” notes that run together vs a rather slow, metronomic series of distinct disyllabic notes, “FWlk-\m-/FWlk-\m-/FWlk-\m-/” (4); eggs bluish-white to creamy white with heavy dark brown blotches vs buff to rich salmon-buff with dense pale chestnut to olive-brown blotches (scoring of egg differences not covered by the criteria used herein; in this case allowed 2); larger size (wing 196–210 vs 182–195 in indicus, which is larger than kelaarti) (at least 1); darker overall appearance (blackish patches, streaks and bars larger, on crown, upperparts, underparts and tail) (2). Race hazarae sometimes included within jotaka#R. Proposed race memnon (from Lushai Hills, in NE India) is a synonym of hazarae. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. j. hazarae Whistler, 1935 – NE Pakistan E across Himalayas to NE India, Bangladesh and S China (Yunnan), S through Myanmar to Malay Peninsula.
  • C. j. jotaka Temminck & Schlegel, 1844 – SE Siberia, E, C & S China, Japan and Korea; winters from S China S to Greater Sundas and Philippines.
  • Descriptive notes

    24–29 cm; 77–91·8 g. Sexually dimorphic. Very dark, coarsely marked nightjar, blackish above with largely obscured pattern. Male has broad black splotches on central crown,... read more


    Song is given either from ground or high perch, a loud, evenly spaced, rapid and highly percussive... read more


    Breeds in open scrub and heavily forested areas (e.g. hill evergreen forest in Thailand) with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Basically identical to C. indicus. Diet on Borneo recorded as moths, hemipterans, flying ants, grasshoppers, locustids,... read more


    Breeds late May to early Aug in Japan, Jun in Russia, May in China, Apr–May in Myanmar, Mar–Jun (mainly Apr–May) in Himalayas, and late Apr... read more


    Poorly understood. Throughout much of range from N India E to S China, populations largely... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common summer visitor to NE Pakistan; common in parts of N India and fairly common in Nepal; local in Bangladesh; local and... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus jotaka). 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 21 February 2020).