A female Large-tailed Nightjar’s double wing distraction

posted in: Nesting | 2

“On March 9th, Pei Xin and I were conducting a survey at Seletar Camp. As we were moving through a wooded area, we flushed an adult, female Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) from the ground.

“It flew in a somewhat erratic manner and descended on a nearby log. Here, it performed a most interesting act of constantly dropping each wing in turn, occasionally both at the same time.

“I recognised this behaviour as a distraction technique used by many birds to draw predators away from a nest or fledglings. Carefully looking around, I spotted two eggs on the ground nearby. I took a couple of photos of the eggs and we quickly left the area, so as to allow the adult to return to her brooding. (Many a nest is abandoned because the observer hangs around for far too long, often trying to get all the photos that they want.)

“What is interesting with this observation is that the nightjar used a double winged distraction technique. Most birds that I have previously observed performing this, used one wing or the other. This is referred to as the “broken wing” technique and attracts the would-be predator to go after the “injured” bird instead of the eggs or chicks. When the predator draws close, the parent bird would then fly a short distance further. This is repeated until the enemy is far enough away from the original target.

“Waders are particularly renowned for this technique and I have watched both the Malaysian Plover (Charadrius peronii) and the Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus), both local residents waders, utilise this.”

Subaraj Rajathurai
Singapore
March 2009

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  1. […] mangrove swamp … to do a lot of draining, and still bits of the camp get very soggy! …Bird Ecology Study Group A female Large-tailed Nightjar’s …On March 9th, Pei Xin and I were conducting a survey at Seletar Camp. As we were moving through a […]

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  2. […] The common Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) is common and found throughout Singapore (above). It is seen along forest paths and edges as well as in open country, nesting on the ground. Its excellent camouflage defies detection until one walks right near to the nest when the bird will suddenly fly off and lands nearby, faking injury to lure the intruder away from the nest LINK. […]

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