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Birding Málaga


Common name Red-necked nightjar
Scientific name Caprimulgus ruficollis
Type Shrubland birds
Status Summer

Medium-sized bird (about 28 cm or 11 in) that, due to its cryptic plumage, is easier to be watched in flight or perched on tracks and roads than in the countryside. It resembles a large swift of brown colours. In flight it shows very visible white markings on the tips of the wings and tail. It has a distinctive rufous neck collar, which stands out from the rest of the plumage. Long wings and tail.


Cultivated areas and scrubland

Where it lives

Open spaces in warm and dry areas of moderate altitude (less than 800 masl) and little woodland. It is not present in mountain areas. Mixed landscapes that alternate bushes and scattered trees with crops and wastelands, fertile plains and orchards and riparian woods.

How it lives

Summer species in the province, present only during the breeding period and in migratory passage. The Red-Necked Nightjar spends winter south of the Sahara Desert. Twilight and nocturnal habits. It builds its nest on the ground and breeds from May, a single annual laying of 2 eggs. Insectivore that captures its prey in flight, especially moths, using its huge mouth.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Frequent species in Malaga. In the Great Path they can be observed in stages 3, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 17, 18, 22, 23, 27, 28, 31, 32 and 33 among others. It is very usual to see them perched on the roads and tracks at night, dazzled by the headlights of the cars, which is why a lot are run over.

Curious facts

In Malaga nightjars are known as "zumayas" or "engañapastores" ("deceivers of shepherds"). There is a belief that they can drink milk from the goats, sucking directly from the udders. Although this is false, it is true that they usually accompany the flocks in the twilight to feed on the insects that they raise in their path. What is most spectacular is their adaptation to nocturnal life: big eyes, feathers for a silent flight and vibrissae (sensory hairs, like the whiskers of cats).

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration