Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Buff-collared Nightjar

Antrostomus ridgwayi

Birders hearing it for the first time may have trouble believing that the Buff-collared Nightjar is a relative of the Whip-poor-will. Staccato, unbirdlike, the call sounds like the voice of an insect: a very large insect, perhaps, audible up to half a mile away over the dry hills at night. First found north of the Mexican border in 1958, this bird now spends the summer in several canyons in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.
Conservation status Still very uncommon and localized north of the Mexican border. Widespread and common in Mexico.
Family Nightjars
Habitat Desert canyons, rocky slopes. In the U.S., found mostly around 4,000 feet elevation in rocky canyons that have trees or dense brush along drainage and sparse growth on hillsides. In Mexico, found in various kinds of dry tropical forest and brush.
Birders hearing it for the first time may have trouble believing that the Buff-collared Nightjar is a relative of the Whip-poor-will. Staccato, unbirdlike, the call sounds like the voice of an insect: a very large insect, perhaps, audible up to half a mile away over the dry hills at night. First found north of the Mexican border in 1958, this bird now spends the summer in several canyons in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • juvenile
Feeding Behavior

Apparently forages at dusk and dawn, also on moonlit nights. Does much of its foraging by sitting on exposed perch at top of shrub or small tree and flying out to catch passing insects in midair. May also forage by flying up from the ground. Also makes longer flights of a minute or more, patrolling for insects.


Eggs

2. Pale buff, heavily marked with spots of lavender and brown. Young: Development of young and care by parents not well known. If danger threatens, adult may put on a distraction display, feigning a broken wing to lure predators away.


Young

Development of young and care by parents not well known. If danger threatens, adult may put on a distraction display, feigning a broken wing to lure predators away.

Diet

Insects. Diet not known in detail, but undoubtedly includes large night-flying insects such as beetles and moths.


Nesting

Nesting behavior is not well known. Only a few nests have been found, mostly in Mexico. Male calls at night to defend territory and attract a mate. Nest site is on ground, usually in the shade of a shrub and often surrounded by dense thickets. No nest built, eggs laid on dead leaves or open soil.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Probably a permanent resident over most of its range. In Arizona and New Mexico, apparently arrives mostly in May, staying through August.

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Migration

Probably a permanent resident over most of its range. In Arizona and New Mexico, apparently arrives mostly in May, staying through August.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A staccato cu-cu-cu-cuc-cuc-cuc-uh-chee-ah, heard at night.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

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