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Feature Creature - Nightjar

Nightjar Nightjar Credits: Neil Aldridge

Nightjars are nocturnal, secretive birds that are usually found on heathland and moorland, or in young conifer plantations. 


Nightjars only come to the UK in summer, arriving in late April or early May and leaving again in August or September to fly to Africa where they spend the winter.  They are most common in the south of England, but they are also found as far north as SW Scotland and parts of Wales. 


Nightjars have super-statue power!

Yes it’s true. Nightjars are masters at staying still.  During the day they rest on the ground without moving a muscle.  Their feathers are coloured in such a way to completely camouflage them amongst leaves and bracken and it is almost impossible to find them. 


If you want to spot one, the best time to try is on a summer’s evening at dusk when they are active and might be seen calling from a favourite tree or flying about catching their favourite snack – moths.


Slurpy goat suckers?

Nightjars used to be known as ‘goat suckers’ as people believed that they drank the milk from goats at night!  (They don’t!)


The stats:

Length: 26-28cm

Wingspan: 60cm

Weight: 83g

Average Lifespan: up to 11 years


Find out more about Nightjars from our Explore Wildlife page


Read about more feature creatures


Article by Sadie McGlone