1093. Caprimulgus macrurus

1093. Caprimulgus macrurus.

Horsfield's Nightjar.

Caprimulgus macrourus, Horsf. Trans. Linn. Soc. xiii, p. 142 (1821); Blyth, Cat. p. 83 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 112; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 195; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 83; Hume Sr Dav. S. F. vi, pp. 58, 498; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 258; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 150.

Caprimulgus macrurus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 204; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 46; xi, p. 39; id. Cat. no. 110; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 588; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 20 ; id. in Hume's N. & F. 2nd ed. iii, p. 45; Hartert, Cat. B. M. xvi, p. 537.

Caprimulgus albonotatus, Tickell, J. A. S. B. ii, p. 580 (1833); Blyth, Cat. p. 83; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 194; Beavan, Ibis, 1865, p. 406; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. 2, p. 266, xiv, pt. 2, p. 68 ; Bulger, Ibis, 1869, p. 155 ; Wald. in Blyth's Birds Burm. p. 83; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 45 ; id. Cat. no. 109; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 203; Cripps, ibid. p. 257; Beid, S. F. x, p. 19 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 19; id. in Hume's N. & F. 2nd ed. iii, p. 43; C. H. T. Marshall, Ibis, 1884, p. 409; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 589; Hartert (subsp. C. macruri), Cat. B. M. xvi, p. 537.

Caprimulgus atripennis, Jerdon, Ill. Ind. Orn. pl. 24 (1847) ; id. B. I. i, p. 196; Holdsworth, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 421; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 340; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 203 ; Hume, Cat. no. 111; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 380 ; Davison, S. F. x, p. 349; Macgregor, ibid. p. 436; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 90; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. iv, p. 7, pl. fig. 111 (egg); Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 47; Hartert, Cat, B. M. xvi, p. 542.

Caprimulgus mahrattensis, apud Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv, p. 206; id. Cat. p. 83; nec Sykes.

Caprimulgus sp., Scully, S. F. viii, p. 236.

The Large Bengal Nightjar, The Malay Nightjar, The Ghat Nightjar, Jerdon; Khallpecha, B. (Maunbhoom).

Coloration. Male. General colour above brown or brownish buff, varying much in depth of tint, the feathers very finely mottled; crown paler and generally greyer than back and marked with elongate black spots in the middle, not at the sides; a few black shaft-stripes on the back; a rufous tinge round the neck, but no distinct collar; scapulars with large velvety-black spots and some broad buff: edges; wing-coverts spotted and stippled black and buff; black cross-bars on the tail indistinct; first four primaries with a white spot beyond the middle; outer two pairs of tail-feathers with white tips 1 1/2-2 inches long; a large white spot on the throat, the white feathers tipped buff and black, sides of head more or less rufous; a whitish moustachial stripe; chin, throat, and breast mottled brown, darker or paler, with a few broader buff edges to the feathers ; abdomen and lower tail-coverts buff, barred throughout, but the bars rather wider apart posteriorly.

Female with the spots on the primaries and outer tail-feathers smaller and tinged with buff or rufous.

Bill pinkish brown; gape flesh-colour; iris dark brown; feet brown (Oates).

Dimensions varying: in the large Northern form (C. albonotatus), length about 13 inches, tail 6.5-7, wing 8-9, tarsus .75; in the small Ceylonese race (C. atripennis), length 11, tail 5.5, wing 7, tarsus .7. The tarsus is feathered throughout.

Somewhat to my surprise I find the South Indian and Ceylon G. atripennis identical with typical C. macrurus from Java (the original locality). It is a small bird of very dark colour, the primaries without any rufous markings in adult males. The large pale C. albonotatus of Northern India, with a buff-coloured, finely and very neatly stippled crown, the breast scarcely darker than the abdomen, and imperfect rufous bars at the base of all primaries, is, at first sight, a very different bird; but, as Hume has pointed out, every intermediate gradation may be found in the Himalayas, Assam, and Burma. These intermediate forms have been described by Jerdon and other Indian ornithologists as O. macrurus. Such intermediate forms are rare in Peninsular India, though there is considerable variation: thus there is a Nilgiri skin in the Hume collection the size of 0. atripennis, but with the Coloration of C. albonotatus. I therefore look upon this as one of the cases in which a large pale form inhabiting Northern India passes into a small dark variety to the southward on both sides of the Bay of Bengal.

Distribution. The large pale form (C. albonotatus) is found throughout the Himalayas at low elevations, in the North-west Provinces, Bengal, Chutia Nagpur, and Raipur, and in Burma. Intermediate forms between the large pale C. albonotatus and the small dark C. macrurus occur from the Eastern Himalayas to Tenasserim, Siam, and China. Typical G. macrurus ranges through the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago to Queensland and New Guinea, and also (as 0. atripennis) inhabits Ceylon and Southern India as far north as the Godavari to the eastward and Belgaum to the west.

Habits, &c. All the varieties are chiefly forest birds, though occurring in Northern India in wooded parts of cultivated country. The call of this species is compared by several observers to the Sound made by striking a plank with a hammer ; a low chirp is also uttered during flight. The breeding-season is from March to May, and two eggs are laid, varying in tint from pale salmon or buff to lilac-grey, with pale purplish blotches and a few brown spots. They measure 1.08-1.3 by .85-.95.

The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.3 1895.
Title in Book: 
1093. Caprimulgus macrurus
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Horsfields Nightjar
Large-tailed Nightjar
Caprimulgus macrurus
Vol. 3

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith