Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Pennant-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus vexillarius)


French: Engoulevent porte-étendard German: Flaggennachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras cuelgacintas

Semeïophorus (Macrodipteryx?) vexillarius


, 1838,

Sierra Leone


Specific name has at times been incorrectly given as vexillaria, but vexillarius was originally described as a masculine noun in apposition to masculine genus name. Although vagrants of this species recorded in several parts of W Africa, no valid type specimen known and validity of type locality questionable; “southern Africa” suggested as a replacement#R. Present species formerly isolated in monotypic genus Semeiophorus, and subsequently placed with C. longipennis in Macrodipteryx, but recent phylogenetic study indicates that both taxa are embedded within Caprimulgus#R. Despite evident differences in morphology, the two species show similarities in vocalizations, breeding strategy, and some roosting and feeding habits, and are probably closely related. Monotypic.


C, NE & E Angola, S DRCongo and SW Tanzania S to NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip), NE Botswana and extreme NE South Africa. Winters from SE Nigeria E to Uganda and W Kenya.

Descriptive notes

24–28 cm (excluding male's "pennants", which reach 48–78 cm in length); male 59–79 g, female 65–88 g. Sexually dimorphic, breeding males... read more


Song of male is a series of rapid, high-pitched “tseet” notes given in display flights... read more


Mainly mature miombo or mopane woodland, also other woodland (including burnt or cleared), wooded... read more

Food and feeding

Diet includes moths, beetles, winged termites and ants, crickets, grasshoppers, mantids, cockroaches, earwigs, shield bugs, leafhoppers and... read more


Breeds Aug–Oct in Angola, late Aug to Nov in Zambia, Aug–Mar in S Tanzania, Oct–Dec in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe,... read more


An intra-African, transequatorial migrant, although movements rather protracted and not fully... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common to locally abundant throughout much of breeding range, from C Angola E through S Zaire to SW Tanzania, S to NE South Africa. Extremely common... read more

Recommended citation

Cleere, N. (2020). Pennant-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus vexillarius). 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).