Large-tailed Nightjar – courtship calls

on 17th December 2021

The Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus bimaculatus) that initially lived in our immediate neighbourhood and, for the past 2 years, has lived in our garden, is probably the bird we have watched the most. Apart from frequent daytime observations, we also get to watch night time behaviour before our bedtime and especially when we have breakfast on our roof in the early mornings (4.30-5.30am).

One interesting observation is courtship calls – when the pair is courting they will make low pitched growling calls to each other as part of the bonding process. These are very different from the loud, classical “chock-chock” calls. The mutual-growling-courtship activity can carry on for long periods. In one 50 second continual recording, I counted 120 vocalisations (2.4 per second, counting only the louder partner, recorded at 5.30am). Amplified recording here: – you have to listen intently to hear the partner vocalising almost simultaneously in the ‘background’. The sonogram in the post shows how low pitched the calls are at 1-2.5 kHz. I have intentionally chosen this section of calls to display because the partner’s calls are occasionally separated. Usually the calls are merged but when the first caller pauses briefly you can hear and identify the other bird’s calls (see image).


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Wild urban garden

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

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.

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