The mysterious and often invisible nightjar is the only member of this mysterious family of birds. The nightjar flies to nesting sites from the end of April, but more often in May, the first sign of return is a terrifying chirping song that the male sings on the branches in his territory.
How the nightjar sings
Each song section is several minutes long with a number of short but faster trills lasting about half a second. These short trills are emitted by the bird when it takes a breath. This explains how she sings for so long without stopping. These couplets contain about 1900 notes per minute, and by analyzing the frequency of trills and the length of phrases, ornithologists distinguish between individual birds.
We invite you to listen to the voice of the nightjar
What do nightjars eat in nature
Insects, especially moths and beetles, make up the majority of the nightjar’s diet, so this species mainly feeds at dawn and dusk when insects are most active. Nightjars are similar in appearance to falcons, and just like these birds of prey, they are capable of quick turns in the air and dive.
Nightjars have two main ways of feeding:
Nightjars have unusually large, wide slits in their beaks, around which grow stiff “bristles” actually feathers without plumage that help the birds successfully catch prey.
How nightjars see, vision features
All birds have sharp eyesight, large eyes are located on the sides of the head, which provides a good all-round view. There are no cones on the retina as birds do not need color vision and instead have layers of motion-sensitive rods. The membrane layer behind the retina, called the tapetum, reflects the light that the rods have passed through the retina, which gives the goat’s eyes additional sensitivity. It is this layer that under artificial lighting makes the bird’s eyes shiny.
Nightjar mating games
During courtship, the male flies in an “attacking” style, alternating slow wing beats with occasional wing flapping, wing-raised gliding and tail down. During this ceremony, white spots near the tips of the wings and under the tail of the male are clearly visible. If there is a full moon in early June, then nightjars mate closer to this date. This ensures that by the next full moon conditions will be the best for catching insects to feed the young.
Are nightjars threatened with extinction?
The number of nightjars is estimated at 930,000–2,100,000 individuals, but numbers and numbers are declining, especially in the Northwest and North of Europe. Decreased heathlands and insect numbers are probably the reasons for the disappearance of nightjars from some regions, but the population is now on the rise again.
How to find nightjar in its habitats
Lowland heaths and recently cleared areas are the preferred habitats for this species. Nightjars usually become active around sunset, singing for an hour after sunset and again before dawn. They can be heard at a distance of at least 200 meters, and sometimes up to a kilometer. Warm and dry nights are the best time to listen to nightjar singing.
Birds often fly and inspect the guest. Soft, wing-like pops attract nightjars, but the most successful method is to wave a white handkerchief at arm’s length. This movement imitates the waves of the white wings of the male and attract the bird. Do not use notes with singing goats, as this negatively affects their propagation.