Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Long-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus climacurus)


French: Engoulevent à longue queue German: Schleppennachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras rabudo

Caprimulgus climacurus


, 1824,



Closely related to C. clarus and C. fossii, and all three have frequently been placed in a separate genus, Scotornis. Distinctive race nigricans, obviously blacker and longer-tailed than others, and perhaps with more white in outer tail, may merit taxonomic investigation. Dark, dull-coloured birds from Sierra Leone to S Nigeria sometimes separated as race leoninus, but possibly intermediate between nominate and race sclateri, or a variant of latter. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. climacurus Vieillot, 1824 – S Mauritania and Senegal E to S Sudan and N South Sudan; partial migrant S to guinean savanna and forest zones.
  • C. c. sclateri (Bates, 1927) – humid belt of W Africa (Sierra Leone to Nigeria) E to N DRCongo, W Uganda and S South Sudan.
  • C. c. nigricans (Salvadori, 1868) – centred on White Nile in SE Sudan (Kosti), reaching E to W Eritrea and S to NE South Sudan (Shambe and L Nyubor; also along Bahr el Zeraf and R Sobat) and W Ethiopia.
  • Descriptive notes

    28–43 cm; male 39–58 g, female 35–61 g. Sexually dimorphic. Variable in colour ranging from pale brown, brown and greyish-brown to sandy-buff. Upperparts... read more


    Song of male is a long, evenly pitched churr, often ending with series of “chong” or... read more


    Highly variable throughout range, in all habitats from arid semi-deserts to woods, forest and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes beetles, moths, mantises, bugs, ants, winged termites and grasshoppers. Foraging methods poorly studied. Forages in flight,... read more


    Surprisingly poorly documented. Breeds Mar–Sept in N Senegal and possibly also ­Gambia, Mar–Aug in Mali and N Nigeria, Jan... read more


    Poorly known. Nominate race migratory and partially sedentary, some populations moving S after... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and locally abundant throughout much of range, perhaps less so in forest clearings in S. Widespread and often rather common in Senegal;... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. (2020). Long-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus climacurus). 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 24 February 2020).