Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Rufous Nightjar (Antrostomus rufus)


French: Engoulevent roux German: Rostnachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras colorado

Caprimulgus rufus


, 1783,



Probably closest to A. carolinensis, with which has even been considered conspecific, but differs notably in both voice and morphology. Race otiosus has been considered a distinct species on basis of supposed sympatric breeding with race minimus in N Venezuela; its presence in Venezuela, however, now seems rather unlikely, as relevant specimens were in poor condition and, in any case, appear not to have matched otiosus well; also, differences from other races in vocalizations and plumage are minimal#R. Likewise, race minimus sometimes considered a separate species, but again differences appear insufficient. Race saltuarius initially thought to belong to A. sericocaudatus; subsequently found to be closer to present species, but thought to occur sympatrically with rutilus and so was proposed for full species status; voice and morphometrics, however, place it within present species#R, where it is sometimes synonymized with rutilus, being considered a grey plumage morph of latter. Race rutilus includes proposed forms ornatus (SE Brazil) and cortapau (S Brazil); nominate includes noctivigilus#R (Venezuela); proposed race maximus, known only from its holotype (from upper Cauca Valley, in SW Colombia), is tentatively synonymized with minimus. Sight records of present species from C Colombia, S Ecuador, Peru and C Brazil not yet subspecifically assigned; some of these may refer to as yet undescribed races. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. r. minimus (Griscom & Greenway, 1937) – Ruddy Nightjar – S Costa Rica S to N Colombia, N Venezuela and NW Trinidad (including Bocas Is).
  • A. r. otiosus Bangs, 1911 – St Lucia Nightjar – NE St Lucia, in Lesser Antilles.
  • A. r. rufus (Boddaert, 1783) – Rufous Nightjar – S Venezuela E to the Guianas and NC Brazil.
  • A. r. rutilus Burmeister, 1856 – S Brazil, E Bolivia, Paraguay and NE Argentina.
  • A. r. saltuarius (Olrog, 1979) – NW Argentina and possibly SE Bolivia.
  • Populations in C Colombia, S Ecuador, Peru and C Brazil of uncertain status, and not yet assigned to race.

    Descriptive notes

    25–30 cm; one male 88 g, female 87·4–98 g, one unsexed 95 g. Sexually dimorphic. Upperparts rufescent-brown, broadly streaked blackish brown, with narrow... read more


    Nocturnal song of male is a loud “chuk, wee, wee, weeo” given from branches or rocks or... read more


    Generally forest: rainforest, gallery forest, second-growth forest, open woodland and ­forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on insects. Forages by hawking or flycatching from low perches, often in forest interiors.


    Poorly known. Possibly breeds Jan–May in Panama, Jun on St Lucia, Feb–May in ­Trinidad, mid-Apr to May in Colombia, eggs or... read more


    Poorly known; most populations may be sedentary. Race rutilus partially migratory, S... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Rare and local in S Costa Rica; locally fairly common on Pacific side of Panama, scarcer and more local on Caribbean side, occurring... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. (2020). Rufous Nightjar (Antrostomus rufus). 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 19 February 2020).