Large-tailed Nightjar’s social/mating behaviour.

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Vocalisation | 0

“I have mentioned before that some of the most significant observations have no images to support them. My wife and I often see very interesting behaviour in the early morning (pre-dawn) as we sit on the flat part of our roof (have permanent ladder up) for breakfast and solitude; almost every day for past 7-8 years.


[The above image of the Large-tailed Nightjar was photographed at a different location}

“We are often accompanied on the roof by our resident Large-tailed Nightjars (Caprimulgus macrurus) which have slowly proliferated in number. Every year around November to January they wake us up at night with loud calls in the mating season.

“Today, for the first time, we were privileged to observe a mating duel. Earlier in the night they (we presume more than one adult male) had woken us up 3 times with the classical loud ‘chock’ calls. At around 5.30 am we saw one male physically ‘attack’ another. Prior to the altercation both were sitting about 3-4 meters apart on the electrical wire (separated by a tree). They were both making the less common call which can be best described as low pitched growl or engine trying to start in the cold. They were competing and the calls were at a fast frequency. One male flew at the other and physically hit it. They then had a brief aerial conflict before settling on the wire again at similar positions. We then noticed the female sitting on the wire between the two of them, hidden by tree branches. Despite the lack of lighting, identification of males was certain as the white in the tail (in flight/rest) was clearly seen from nearby street lights.

“My wife kindly scooted down to get my camera and we attempted to record the audible conflict HERE (sorry for slightly larger file; sound amplified, and a noisy Koel edited out as much as possible).

“We watched this conflict continue for 12-14 minutes, primarily a verbal battle but with another similar physical contact noted. As we moved back down the ladder they were continuing the verbal battle on another wire.

“We have observed and posted a similar mating altercation on 22nd August 2010 with Savannah Nightjars (Caprimulgus affinis).”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS & Datin, Dr Swee-Im Lim
Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
13th January 2013

Habitat: Urban environment, pre-dawn

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