nightjar

/nuyt"jahr'/, n.
1. a nocturnal European bird, Caprimulgus europaeus, of the family Caprimulgidae, having a short bill and a wide mouth and feeding on insects captured in the air.
2. Also called goatsucker. any other nocturnal or crepuscular bird of the family Caprimulgidae.
[1620-30; NIGHT + JAR2 (from its harsh cry)]

* * *

Any of about 60–70 species of birds (family Caprimulgidae) found almost worldwide in temperate to tropical regions.

The name is sometimes applied to all birds in the order Caprimulgiformes. (The name goatsucker derives from an old belief that they sucked goat's milk at night.) Nightjars are gray, brown, or reddish brown. They eat flying insects at night. The common nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) has a flat head; wide, bristle-fringed mouth; large eyes; and soft plumage that results in noiseless flight. It is about 12 in. (30 cm) long. Its North American relatives include the nighthawk and whippoorwill.

* * *

bird
      any of about 60 to 70 species of birds that make up the subfamily Caprimulginae of the family Caprimulgidae and sometimes extended to include the nighthawks, subfamily Chordeilinae (see nighthawk). The name nightjar is sometimes applied to the entire order Caprimulgiformes. (See caprimulgiform.)

      True nightjars occur almost worldwide in temperate to tropical regions, except for New Zealand and some islands of Oceania. They have protective colouring of gray, brown, or reddish brown. They feed on flying insects that they catch on the wing at night.

 The common nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus; see photograph—>) is representative of some 35 similar species making up the largest genus in the order Caprimulgiformes. It is characterized by its flat head, wide mouth fringed with bristles, large eyes, and soft plumage that results in noiseless flight. About 30 cm (12 inches) long, it breeds throughout Europe and in western Asia, wintering in Africa.

      The lyre-tailed nightjar (Uropsalis lyra) inhabits northwestern South America. Its outermost tail feathers may measure 60 cm (24 inches) or more, accounting for 80 to 90 percent of the bird's total length.

      The pennant-winged nightjar (Semeiophorus vexillarius) of Africa gets its name from its boldly patterned black and white wing, which has greatly lengthened innermost primary flight feathers (50 to 70 cm [20 to 28 inches]).

      The North American relatives of nightjars are chuck-will's-widow, pauraque, poorwill, and whippoorwill (qq.v.).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • nightjar — [nīt′jär΄] n. [ NIGHT + JAR1: from the whirring noise made by the male] any of a family (Caprimulgidae) of goatsuckers; esp., the common European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) …   English World dictionary

  • Nightjar — Night jar , n. A goatsucker, esp. the European species. See Illust. of {Goatsucker}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nightjar — (n.) nocturnal bird, goatsucker, 1620s, from NIGHT (Cf. night) + JAR (Cf. jar) (v.). So called for the jarring sounds made by the male when the female is brooding, which have been described as a churring trill that seems to change direction as it …   Etymology dictionary

  • Nightjar — Goatsucker redirects here. For the cryptid translated from Spanish as goat sucker, see Chupacabra. This article is about the bird. For the aircraft, see Gloster Nightjar. Nightjars Common Nighthawk, Chordeiles minor, and Whip poor will …   Wikipedia

  • nightjar — /ˈnaɪtdʒa / (say nuytjah) noun 1. any of various nocturnal insect eating birds of the widely distributed family Caprimulgidae, having cryptic plumage and roosting on the ground during the day, as the spotted nightjar, Eurostopodus argus, endemic… …   Australian English dictionary

  • nightjar — Goatsucker Goat suck er, n. (Zo[ o]l.) One of several species of insectivorous birds, belonging to {Caprimulgus} and allied genera, esp. the European species ({Caprimulgus Europ[ae]us}); so called from the mistaken notion that it sucks goats. The …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nightjar — night•jar [[t]ˈnaɪtˌdʒɑr[/t]] n. 1) orn any of numerous nocturnal goatsuckers of the subfamily Caprimulginae, having a short bill and a wide mouth used for scooping up insects in midflight 2) orn the common Eurasian nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus …   From formal English to slang

  • nightjar — noun Etymology: from its harsh sound Date: 1630 any of a family (Caprimulgidae) of medium sized long winged crepuscular or nocturnal birds (as the whip poor wills and nighthawks) having a short bill, short legs, and soft mottled plumage and… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • nightjar — noun /ˈnaɪtʤɑː,ˈnaɪtʤɑr/ Any of various medium sized nocturnal birds of the family Caprimulgidae, that feed predominantly on moths and other large flying insects …   Wiktionary

  • nightjar — night|jar [ naıt,dʒar ] noun count a brown bird that makes a loud sound at night …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.