Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis)


French: Engoulevent affin German: Savannennachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras de sabana
Other common names: Allied Nightjar (“monticolus group”)

Caprimulgus affinis


, 1821,



Subspecies fall into two groups, formerly considered two distinct species, but vocalizations apparently identical: N populations, comprising monticolus, amoyensis and stictomus, differ significantly from S remaining subspecies in larger size and browner plumage colour. Races undulatus and kasuidori sometimes subsumed within nominate. Populations from NE India to Thailand formerly separated as race burmanicus, but generally indistinguishable from monticolus. Birds from S Sulawesi may represent an undescribed taxon. Ten subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. monticolus Franklin, 1831 – Franklin's Nightjar – NE Pakistan and India E to Myanmar and S to Thailand and Cambodia.
  • C. a. amoyensis E. C. S. Baker, 1931 – SE China and N Vietnam.
  • C. a. stictomus Swinhoe, 1863 – Taiwan.
  • C. a. griseatus Walden, 1875 – N & C Philippines (Luzon, Catanduanes, Mindoro, Sibuyan, Negros and Cebu).
  • C. a. mindanensis Mearns, 1905 – Mindanao, in SE Philippines.
  • C. a. affinis Horsfield, 1821 – Savanna Nightjar – S Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and Java E to Lombok, and possibly S Sulawesi.
  • C. a. propinquus Riley, 1918 – Sulawesi (possibly except Makassar region of SW peninsula).
  • C. a. undulatus Mayr, 1944 – Sumbawa, Komodo and Flores (W Lesser Sundas).
  • C. a. kasuidori Hachisuka, 1932 – Sumba and Sawu (C Lesser Sundas).
  • C. a. timorensis Mayr, 1944 – Alor, Timor, Roti and Kisar (E Lesser Sundas).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–26 cm; male 54–86 g, female 75–110 g. Sexually dimorphic. Upper­parts brown, speckled whitish or cinnamon and streaked blackish brown; pale buffish,... read more


    Call is a loud, repetitive “chwip” or “chweep”, given mainly in flight.... read more


    Mainly grassland, grassy plains and open woodland and forest, often with scrub or rocky outcrops;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes moths, mantises, beetles, termites and flying ants. Forages in flight, often high above ground, hawking after prey over... read more


    Breeds Jun–Jul in N Pakistan, Apr–Aug in India and Himalayas, May to perhaps Mar in Philippines, Mar–Dec in Java, and Apr... read more


    Poorly known. S populations that form affinis group appear to be largely sedentary, though... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common to common throughout its range. Abundant passage migrant and common breeding bird in N Pakistan; probably not uncommon... read more

    Recommended citation

    Cleere, N. (2020). Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis). 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).