Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Todd's Nightjar (Setopagis heterura)


French: Engoulevent de Todd German: Toddnachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras de Todd

Setopagis heterurus


, 1915,

La Tigrera, Santa Marta, Colombia


Formerly considered conspecific with Nyctidromus anthonyi, but differs in vocalizations. Until recently, treated as conspecific with S. parvula, but differs in strongly divergent song (“TIK-tok-gbl-gbl-gbl”, relatively slow, deliberate, each note equally spaced, usually only 3 of last notes, vs “tlok-CHRRRRÚII-groigroigroigroigroi” with first note almost swallowed, second note stressed and rising, last notes fast, slightly descending) (3); much wider white band across five outer primaries (2); slightly darker underparts (1); slightly larger white spots on tail-feather tips (1); note that overall tone of coloration is apparently variable in both forms. Genetic data offer reasonable support for this split, as heterura and parvula differ by 5% in mtDNA#R. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

NE Colombia and N & C Venezuela. Recently recorded in Guyana#R and far N Brazil (Roraima)#R.

Descriptive notes

19–21 cm. Small, generally greyish-coloured nightjar (although considerable variation exists) with short tail (wings reaching almost to tail tip). Male has grey crown... read more


Song an evenly pitched “pik-you, gobble-gobble-gobble”, repeated at short intervals, sounding... read more


Borders of deciduous and semi-deciduous woodland, gallery forest, lightly wooded terrain,... read more

Food and feeding

No information on diet available, beyond insects. Sallies for aerial prey, both from ground or low perch.


Almost nothing known. Breeds from late Oct in N Colombia (eggs and female in breeding condition), but heard mainly late Apr to early May in... read more


Presumably sedentary.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). No overall estimate of population size. Rare (or perhaps overlooked) in Colombia, uncommon to locally fairly common in Venezuela;... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Todd's Nightjar (Setopagis heterura). 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 28 February 2020).