Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Ocellated Poorwill (Nyctiphrynus ocellatus)


French: Engoulevent ocellé German: Augennachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras ocelado

Caprimulgus ocellatus


, 1844,



Until recently considered conspecific with N. rosenbergi, but differs vocally; the two may not even be closely related. Proposed race bergeni (from Bolivia) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. o. lautus W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925 – E Honduras, NE Nicaragua and NW Costa Rica (where status uncertain). Recorded also in Panama (Canal Zone).
  • N. o. ocellatus (Tschudi, 1844) – CS Colombia, NE Ecuador and E Peru to E & S Brazil, and S through Bolivia and Paraguay to NE Argentina.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–21 cm; male 35–43 g, female 29–44 g. Sexes similar. Upperparts and wing-coverts almost uniformly dark greyish brown, no nuchal collar; scapulars and some... read more


    Song of male is a repetitive trilled “preeeo” or “prEEoo” (lasting 0... read more


    Prefers lowland forest with open understorey and small, shady clearings; also occurs in dense... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on moths, beetles, cockroaches (including Blattidae), katydids (including Tertigoniidae) and fireflies (including Lampyridae).... read more


    Poorly documented. Possibly breeds Mar–Apr in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Dec in E Ecuador, and Aug, Sept–Nov in Peru; a female... read more


    None recorded. Sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. As a forest inhabitant with nocturnal habits, difficult to find, e.g. not recorded in Bolivia until 1940s, possibly because of under-recording rather... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Ocellated Poorwill (Nyctiphrynus ocellatus). 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 22 March 2018).