Large-tailed Nightjar’s enormous gape

Jeremiha Loei’s two video clips of an adult Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) in an open nest on the ground with two young chicks were documented in 2014. The chicks were more than a week older in the second clip.

NightjarLT ad-ch gape [JeremiahLoei]

Being nocturnal, nightjars naturally hunt at night. They are mainly insectivorous, catching insects while in flight and swallowing them whole. Having an extra wide gape is a great advantage in capturing their prey. The image above, a videograb from the video clip below, shows the chick gaping widely at around 0:45 minutes

Note that the two fluffy chicks are covered with down feathers with the wing feathers just developing.

NightjarLT ad gape-ch [JeremiahLoei].png

The image above is a videograb from the second video clip shown below. It shows the equally large gape of the adult at 0:50 minutes. Note that the chicks are now about more than a week older and covered with feathers.

The nightjar’s enormous gape is due to its ability to open its mouth both vertically and horizontally LINK. The gape is aided by a lining of long, tactile bristles that helps to funnel insects into the mouth when the nightjar is feeding on the wing LINK.

Jeremiah Loei
31st July 2017

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behavior through photography and videography to a wider audience.

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