Nightjar roosting, perched on a log


Nightjars are inactive by day, well hidden by their cryptic plumage patterns, but become active at dusk, when their strange calls and songs may be heard.

They have broad heads and very short bills, but wide mouths, helping them to catch moths in flight. They are exceptionally agile fliers, with long, tapered wings and long tails, but they have very short legs and can scarcely walk. Their shape is similar to a kestrel or cuckoo. The European species are long-distance migrants, spending the winter in Africa. Europe has two species of nightjars, and there are many more worldwide, but the UK has just one.