Caprimulgus is rooted in the Latin word “Capra,” meaning “goatsuckers,” advocating a myth that they used their giant mouths to suck milk from goats

These medium-sized nocturnal birds are renowned for their elusive nature and are spread across the globe, with various species adapting to a wide range of habitats. They possess a number of unique adaptations that suit their crepuscular and nocturnal lifestyles.

Caprimulgus species are generally characterized by their muted grey and brown plumage, which exhibits an intricate pattern that mimics the forest floor, aiding in their camouflage. These birds have short legs and bills, but what they lack in stature, they make up for with their long, pointed wings and tail feathers, which enable swift and agile flight, particularly beneficial during their nocturnal hunts.

These birds exhibit a marked preference for lightly forested areas, avoiding the extreme conditions of high mountains and regions with intense light. They thrive in environments that offer minimal interference from human activity, often occupying habitats where they can roost undisturbed during the day.

As nocturnal creatures, Caprimulgus nightjars engage in most of their activities under the cover of darkness. They spend their days in sleep, remaining motionless and virtually invisible against the backdrop of bark or fallen leaves. Their cryptic plumage plays a critical role in their survival, providing an effective disguise from predators and prey alike.

Nightjars are insectivorous, hunting flying insects at night with remarkable precision. Their flight is buoyant and silent, coupled with the darkness, making them deadly hunters. The birds are equipped with a wide gape, allowing them to catch insects mid-flight, and their soft plumage ensures their movements are calm.

The calls of Caprimulgus nightjars are often described as ‘jarring,’ which is actually the origin of their name ‘nightjar.’ These vocalizations can be startling in the still of the night and serve various purposes, including communication between individuals and territorial defense. The European nightjar, a member of this genus, is known for its wing-clapping behavior during flight, which is believed to be a form of communication used in courtship, greeting, and defense mechanisms.