Welcome to the Twentieth edition of Shakati’s Bush Facts. In this edition we will be focusing on one of our feathered night friends – the Fiery Necked Nightjar. It’s distinctive and frequently uttered call is rendered as ‘good-lord-deliver-us’, and thus makes one of the most beautiful night sounds at Shakati.



The Fiery Necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus pectoralis) is identified in Robert’s 7th edition: bird number 405 and commonly known by the following names:

Afrikaanse naguil [Afrikaans]; Udebeza [Xhosa]; uZavolo (also applied to European nightjar) [Zulu]; Rumbamba (generic term for nightjar) [Kwangali]; Leuwauwe [North Sotho]; Datiwa (generic name for nightjar) [Shona]; Malwelwe (generic term for nightjar) [Swazi]; Kubhasti (generic term for nightjar) [Tsonga]; Leubauba, Mmapheke, Tshogwi (all 3 are generic terms for nightjar) [Tswana]; Roesthalsnachtzwaluw [Dutch]; Engoulevent musicien [French]; Rotnacken-nachtschwalbe [German]; Noitibó-de-pescoço-dourado [Portuguese]




The male and female Fiery-necked Nightjar has the same plumage and colours

  • Eyes: Exceptionally large (to see better in the dark)
  • Head: Brown and White with White moustache
  • Collar: Rufous collar and white throat patch
  • Body: Brown with white patches
  • Front: Grey/White with Brown striped
  • Wings: Brown, and wing coverts are marked with small, pearly spots

This bird has normally proportioned leg length.



Nightjar (4)

The Fiery Necked Nightjar occurs across Southern Africa, ranging from Kenya, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Fiery Necked Nightjar occurs in well-developed woodland with dense leaf litter for nesting and roosting, such as Acacia, miombo (Brachystegia) and broad leaved woodland and avoids extremely arid areas. They are commonly found as well in the Bushveld, especially during night drives.



Nightjar (15)

The Fiery Necked Nightjar is Insectivorous and feeds primarily on: Beetles, butterflies and moths, cockroaches, termites and mantis, lacewings and antlions, grasshopper’s bee’s wasps and ants and flies.

They usually forage at dusk up until the middle of the night, or longer if the moon provides a bit of light. They like to hunt from a branch, and when catching a juicy insect then it will usually return to the same perch to feed.



Nightjar (13)

The Fiery Necked Nightjar has a call which sounds like “Good Lord Deliver Us”. They are primary nocturnal birds, and is usually spotted on Shakati during night time game drives. They are usually difficult to spot during day time with their camouflage type patterns which resembles bark and leaves.

The Fiery Necked Nightjar is primarily a solitary bird, which is very agile in flight. This enables them to catch insects without much effort. Their large eyes enable them to hunt effectively in the dark. They can open their mouths extremely large, which enables them to catch insects much more efficient during flight.

The Fiery Necked Nightjar has as well a special middle claw (pectern) which enables them to groom themselves, and get rid of parasites and dust.



Nightjar (10)

The Fiery Necked Nightjar is a Monogamous, solitary nester, and breeds between August to December. Their nest is usually a simple depression in the ground, usually in and surrounded by dense leaf litter. They lay 2-3 eggs and are incubated by both sexes for about 18-19 days. The young ones usually start flying at about 14 days after hatching.



The Fiery Necked Nightjar is a common non-threatened bird. Its primary predators are: genets, domestic dogs and humans.



For several years a Fiery Necked Nightjar made its home on the roof of Flycatcher chalet. We discovered it only because a storm had broken a branch onto the roof and we looked if it was damaged. And there it was, sitting in the scorching sun completely quiet and immovable with perfect camouflage like a short branch. It stayed there for approximately 3 years I think, and thereafter decided to move on

The Fiery Necked Nightjar is difficult to spot at night, even if they common bird. You will usually hear them before you see them with their distinctive call. The Fiery Necked Nightjar is a precious bird to Shakati Private Game reserve, and we even named one of our Chalets after this beautiful and fascinating nocturnal bird.


See you next time!







Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts – Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town


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