The Jungle Nightjar: India’s Dusk Hunter

The Jungle Nightjar, or Caprimulgus indicus, is a beautiful creature of the dusk, a unique bird that is not as common as it used to be. Nestled on the edge of forests in the Indian subcontinent, this intriguing bird flits about as the sun begins to set, adding an element of mystique to the jungle’s nightly symphony. The Jungle Nightjar’s distinctive call echoes across the hushed wilderness, a melodic tune that sets it apart from its peers. Its beautiful grey body adorned with black streaks and the absence of a conspicuous wing patch, set against the backdrop of the forest, is a sight to behold for any bird lover.

The Jungle Nightjar belongs to the Caprimulgidae family, sharing its lineage with other nightjars found across the globe. This bird’s scientific name translates to “nightjar from India,” and its distinct features, habits, and habitat make it a unique member of India’s diverse avian population. This species’ taxonomy is complex, with different classifications based on factors such as region, size, and distinct features. This bird is of great interest to bird lovers, researchers, and conservationists due to its unique behaviors and relatively lesser-known lifestyle.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameJungle Nightjar
2Scientific nameCaprimulgus indicus
3ColourGrey with black streaks
4Average length21–24 cm
5Average heightNot specified
6Type of birdForest bird
7Found in India in statesThroughout India, especially in forested regions
8HabitatForest edge, hilly grassland, scrub
9IUCN StatusNot evaluated

Features of the Jungle Nightjar


The Jungle Nightjar, on average, is about 21-24 cm in length, with the Sri Lankan population being slightly smaller. It is a medium-sized bird, slightly longer than a common sparrow, but with a more streamlined and sleek body. The length of the bird plays a significant role in its agility and swift movements, particularly during hunting at dusk.


Although the average height of a Jungle Nightjar is not specifically documented, its size is relatively small compared to other birds, aiding its ability to navigate through the dense forests and grasslands it calls home. Their height also helps them blend into their surroundings, making them less noticeable to predators.


The Jungle Nightjar is not specifically known for its running speed; in fact, it is a ground bird that prefers to stay camouflaged in its surroundings during daylight hours. However, it is its flying speed that is noteworthy, particularly its swift and silent movement at dusk, when it becomes active and starts hunting for food.

Other Features

The Jungle Nightjar is primarily grey with black streaks on the crown, a feature that enables it to blend seamlessly into its habitat. It has a lack of a conspicuous wing patch, which is usually rufous. The male displays a white patch on its throat which is interrupted in the middle, whereas the female showcases a rufous patch on its throat with submoustachial streaks.

Habitat and Food of the Jungle Nightjar

  1. The Jungle Nightjar primarily thrives on the edge of forests and hilly grassland areas, where it finds an abundance of food and perfect roosting spots.
  2. The bird roosts in trees, perching lengthwise along a branch, which provides safety from ground predators.
  3. They also prefer scrub, which provides ample camouflage during the day when they are most vulnerable.
  4. Their diet mainly consists of flying insects, which they are adept at catching during their dusk flights.
  5. The Jungle Nightjar, being a nocturnal bird, hunts in the dusk and early hours of the night when insects are most active.

Nesting and Nurturing

Jungle Nightjars are ground-nesters; they choose a bare patch on the ground to lay their eggs. The breeding season in India is between January to June and March to July in Sri Lanka. Both parents play a role in incubating the eggs, which takes about 16 to 17 days. Once hatched, the young ones are taken care of and nurtured by both parents until they are able to fend for themselves.


While the IUCN status of the Jungle Nightjar is not yet evaluated, like many other bird species, it faces threats such as habitat loss due to deforestation and urbanization. Also, its ground-nesting habit makes it vulnerable to various predators, and in some places, they fall prey to illegal hunting and trading.

IUCN Status and Conservation

The Jungle Nightjar’s IUCN status is currently not evaluated.  It is vital to preserve a rare type of bird by undertaking conservation efforts. Conservation steps can include preserving their habitats, raising awareness about their significance and needs, and taking strict measures against illegal hunting and trading. With a coordinated effort, we can ensure that the melodious call of the Jungle Nightjar continues to grace the Indian subcontinent’s dusk.

image_pdfDownload As PDF

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *