Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus)


French: Engoulevent de Horsfield German: Langschwanz-Nachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras macruro

Caprimulgus macrurus


, 1821,



Closely related to C. atripennis, C. andamanicus, C. manillensis and C. celebensis, and all five were formerly considered conspecific, andamanicus having only recently been separated. Race salvadorii was earlier sometimes synonymized with nominate, but merits recognition. Race schlegelii includes schillmolleri (N Moluccas and W Papuan Is), obiensis (NC Moluccas), mesophanis (S Moluccas), oberholseri (W Lesser Sundas), kuehni (Kai Is and Tanimbar Is), yorki (Bismarck Archipelago to N Australia) and meeki (Louisiade Archipelago). Subspecies albonotatus includes noctivigilus (Punjab). In the past, birds of SE Asia were occasionally separated as race ambiguus and those of Hainan I as race hainanus; both now included in bimaculatus, which also includes silvanus (Naga Hills of NE India). Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. albonotatus Tickell, 1833 – foothills of Himalayas E from NE Pakistan (to Bhutan and NE India), S to E India and Bangladesh.
  • C. m. bimaculatus Peale, 1848 – extreme NE India (S to Nagaland and Mizoram) E to S China (S Yunnan, Hainan I), and S through SE Asia to Sumatra, including Riau Archipelago.
  • C. m. johnsoni Deignan, 1955 – SW Philippines (Palawan; probably also Calamian Group).
  • C. m. salvadorii Sharpe, 1875 – Borneo, including islands off N coast (Labuan, Balambangan and Banggi).
  • C. m. macrurus Horsfield, 1821 – Java and Bali.
  • C. m. schlegelii A. B. Meyer, 1874 – Moluccas, islands in Flores Sea, W Lesser Sundas (except Flores and Sumba), New Guinea and satellites, and most of Bismarck Archipelago, S to coastal N & NE Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–29 cm; male 54–79 g, female 60–77 g, unsexed 55–90 g. Sexually dimorphic. Upperparts greyish-brown streaked blackish-brown, broadly so on crown;... read more


    Song of male is a continuous chopping or knocking, “tok, tok, tok, tok”, given from... read more


    Varied, though often preferring areas with trees. Inhabits deciduous forests and woods, bamboo... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet is nocturnal flying insects including moths (Lepidoptera), crickets, grasshoppers (Orthoptera), wasps (Vespa orientalis),... read more


    Breeds Mar–May in N India and Myanmar, Mar–Jun in N Thailand, Jan to at least Sept in Malay Peninsula (including Singapore),... read more


    Poorly documented. Most populations appear to be mainly sedentary. Race albonotatus... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally abundant throughout much of range. In NE Pakistan, scarce and local summer visitor only. In NW India, range... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus). 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 26 February 2020).