IUCN threat status:

Endangered (EN)

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Biology

Like other nightjars, the white-winged nightjar is active at dusk, dawn and throughout the night, when it flies over hillsides and hilltops hunting for food. It flies slowly, and frequently glides, one to two meters above the grass, searching for beetles and moths. This nocturnal hunter can also be found perched on clumps of grass, termite mounds or palms, where it will make sudden short sallies to snatch prey from the air (5). The white-winged male defends territories by chasing away intruding males. These territories may be up to 60 meters in diameter, and are often open areas on the upper slopes of ridges, which usually contain one to three display areas. Each display area contains a vertical perch and a small anthill, separated by a few meters, and is used by the male during moonlit nights to perform courtship displays. From the elevated perch, the male flies in a gentle arc with 'butterfly-like' wing beats and the wings held back. They alight briefly on top of the anthill before flying with strong wing beats back to the perch, which they loop around before resettling on it. During these displays, the male produces an unusual, mechanical grrrrt sound, thought to be produced by the wings (5). Little is known about breeding in the white-winged nightjar; a nest was first discovered as recently as 1997. There was no constructed nest as such; rather, two eggs were laid on bare earth in grassland, slightly covered by a herb (2). Breeding is thought to occur between September and November (5), as a female was observed incubating the eggs on the only known nest in mid to late November, and a juvenile was fledged by the middle of January (2).

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Source: ARKive

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