The Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus) was recently photographed by KC Tsang in Singapore’s Bidadari Cemetery roosting on a tree branch about 7 metres from the ground. The bird is a rare winter visitor and passage migrant.
The Grey regularly roosts in tree, unlike other species of nightjars that prefer bare soil, rocks, boulders or tree stumps and logs. Roosting on a tree branch does not mean that the bird is asleep all the time. At intervals, it will wake up, sit up and preen, stretch its wings or gape widely. These are part of its comfort behaviour. It will also change position if the sun is shining directly on it or causing a prominent shadow to develop, thereby making it obvious to predators.
When danger approaches, it will take on a flattening posture, lowering its neck, head and bill. At the same time it will close its eyes until fully shut but this does not mean that the bird is oblivious to the surroundings. Through the tiniest slit between the eyelids, it keep watch on what is going on.
The bird generally roosts alone, although there may be instances where a pair roosts together. It normally returns to the same roosting site day after day, but once disturbed, it will change its roosting site.
1. Cleere, N., 1999. Family Caprimulgidae (Nightjars). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to hummingbirds. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 302-386.
2. Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.