Roosting of the Grey Nightjar

posted in: Roosting | 4

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.

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.

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Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

4 Responses

  1. Helga

    Wow….great shot of the Nightjar. I’ve never seen one this close. Rare indeed! Awesome! And what a sly bird they are.

  2. Conrad Chong

    I got a pair of night jars roosting on my mangosteen tree. Funny odd looking pair of birds. They breed on the ground…….two eggs… hatched, the other didn’t. Was so afraid that the neighborhood cat would eat the hatchling.

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