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Nightjars and Goatsuckers – Ornithology

The order Caprimulgiformes consists of 4 households of birds with not solely odd appearances however odd names. Generally known as nightjars, the order is comprised of about 120 species of soft-plumaged and cryptically coloured birds together with nighthawks, potoos, frogmouths, poorwills, owlet-frogmouths and oilbirds. Resembling unusual owls, nightjars lack the talons and robust beak; in truth their toes are so small and weak they usually stretch horizontally on the bottom or a tree department to sleep in the course of the day. Most are crepuscular or night-flying birds and lots of produce unusual and haunting sounds.

The household Caprimulgidae consists of nightjars, eared-nightjars and nighthawks.

Caprimulgus, the genus of nightjars and whip-poor-wills, derives from the Latin phrase capra, which means goat, and mulgere, to exploit, referring to an historic fantasy that the birds seen flying close to goats at nightfall had been suckling on the goats’ udders, a false impression most likely induced by the birds’ uncommonly massive mouths.

The Podargidae consists of 15 species of frogmouths, present in India, Asia, and Australia. Frogmouths have a big, flattened, hooked invoice that appears like a frog’s mouth when it’s open. Throughout the day, they stretch out horizontally on tree branches and sleep. They eat bugs and small animals like frogs and mice. They usually beat their prey in opposition to rocks after capturing it. Podargus derives from the Greek phrase for gout because the weak toes of those birds give them an uncommon gait.

Tawny Frogmouth

The Steatornithidae accommodates just one species, the Oilbird This species lives solely in western and northern components of South America. It’s the solely vegetarian of the Caprimulgiformes; it solely eats oily fruits, primarily palm. Throughout the day, the Oilbird lives and rests in grottoes and caverns the place it additionally reproduces. Nocturnal, it makes use of echolocation, very similar to a bat’s sonar, to navigate. The Oilbird so known as as a result of the younger birds are so fats that indigenous folks and early settlers as soon as collected and rendered them to supply oil for lighting and cooking. (Steatornis means “fats hen.”) Oilbirds spend their days in darkness and awake simply earlier than nightfall and go away their roosts to feed, utilizing eager nocturnal imaginative and prescient and sense of scent to find fruit, which they decide from timber whereas hovering.


The household Nyctibiidae, which means “night-feeding”, accommodates seven species of birds distributed in Central and South America known as Potoos, after their name, and which occupy the identical ecological niches because the Frogmouths. Potoos resemble upright nightjars with proportionately massive heads for his or her physique dimension in addition to lengthy wings and tails. Potoos’ typical foraging method is to perch on a department and infrequently fly out within the method of a flycatcher in an effort to snatch a passing insect.

Frequent Potoo with younger

Most Caprimulgiformes have rictal bristles, modified feathers, that reach out from the edges of the jaw, as do plenty of different birds. As soon as thought to function a internet or sieve to funnel flying bugs into the mouth, rictal bristles haven’t any direct function in insect seize however as a substitute function sensory gadgets to offer data to the hen relating to its flight pace and orientation.



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