A bird with the ominous name of a nightjar and with an unusual appearance is rarely seen and seen. And all because they masterfully disguise themselves and lead an almost completely nocturnal lifestyle. All this gave rise to a lot of legends and rumors. What is true and what is fiction - read on.
What does the goat have to do with it?
Because of their elusiveness and "wild" screams (about them a little further), nightjars have become heroes of many myths and horror stories. For example, their name is just connected with such a story. Often these birds were seen near livestock, especially goats. Therefore, the farmers assumed that they were eating goat's milk. Hence the funny name - nightjar. This is, of course, a myth. They definitely do not eat milk. Their favorite diet is insects. And livestock attracts some insects and midges, so the nightjars were spinning around the goats.
Now about the screams
Male nightjars make very unusual sounds. Sometimes they look like barking, sometimes like grunts and growls, and sometimes like creepy screams. Another ancient Indian legend says that these sounds are nothing more than a voice "from the other world."
Interestingly, the range of nightjar trills can reach up to 1900 different notes per minute! And also there is a subspecies that lives in caves, and with the help of its sounds uses the echolocation method for communication and orientation in space.
Not a branch, not a twig, not a small top
Nightjars have very camouflage plumage, which allows them to pretend in a moment to pretend to be a branch of a tree or just a piece of bark. Usually they have feathers of brownish-gray, black, brown shades.
This camouflage is especially useful for females when they nest, incubate and feed chicks. Moreover, they do not make special nests, they can lay eggs in a hollow or "crevice" of a tree, and also settle down right on the ground, between boulders, under leaves and generally in a heap of garbage.
In addition to the plumage features, these birds also know how to take interesting poses, freeze and completely merge with trees. This ability is manifested even in chicks. Males differ from females by white spots on the wings and on the tail. In general, the tail of these crumbs is quite large, and in flight they open it like a fan.
Adults have a wide and flat head. Their eyes are large enough, and during sleep they do not close completely. At night, they shine frighteningly and sparkle in the dark, which makes this bird even more ominous.
Interestingly, despite their masterful disguise, nightjars do not run away or fly away if someone spots them. At first they will pretend to be a twig and freeze. And then they can even let a person, for example, come to them. If they do not sense any danger, then they will not budge. And, if there is the slightest threat, they will open their mouths, scream and start flapping their wings. Brrr!
Usually these birds live in wastelands, in open forests, mainly coniferous, in clearings and in freshly cut forest areas. They are most numerous in southern England, as well as in Wales, southeastern Scotland, in Africa. In Africa, they can be found literally everywhere and in different subspecies. This is exactly where nightjars do not live - it is in the Arctic and Antarctic. Heat-loving, however, horror stories.
They also love to migrate seasonally. For example, a subspecies of the European nightjar changes its habitat from Europe to South Africa and then back again. Where it is warmer, there they winter. Nightjars are very mobile in flight. They are able to hunt and catch flying insects such as moths.
They also love to feast on beetles, spiders and other trifles. The shape of the beak in different subspecies varies depending on the preferred food. But almost all of them are capable of pulling a resisting bug or spider out of the bark, out of the mink, and then directing it into the mouth. And all this on the fly!
Interesting! These birds need a beak not only for getting food. And also for the induction of beauty. They comb their hair and straighten their feathers, clean them of parasites and dust. In addition to the beak, for this purpose they use special "notches" on the middle toes of each foot.
Nightjars usually breed from August to December. As already described above, they lay their eggs on the ground or in trees, not caring for a comfortable environment. Most often, they lay 2 eggs, and then carefully hatch, replacing each other - the female during the day, and the male at night.