Monday, May 9, 2022

Lyre-Tailed Nightjar

I stood off the side of a road on the outskirts of a small town in Ecuador with Julia, my guide, trying to tell me where the lyre-tailed nightjar was located on the side of a cut-hill. While she patiently kept trying to tell me what to look for, a trucker stopped and a shop-keeper across the road came over, all wanting to know what we were looking at. It took me a long time to "see" it. 
Can you see it? It is near the center, but perhaps a bit up and to the right. 
The male lyre-tailed nightjar has ridiculously long tail outer tail feathers that are more than twice as long as its body (the body is 9 to 11 inches long and the tail gets to be 24 inches long). It usually returns to the same roost which is high on a branch or cliff to allow its tail to hang down. Julia knew where to bring me because she has seen it before and knew where to look (even then it took her a while to spot it). The male has brown upperparts and its crown, nape and wings are spotted with white, buff, tawny and cinnamon. The tail is brown and the long streamers have grayish-white tips. 
Here is a close-up of a male excluding its long tail. 

Here is the male with its long tail which goes to the right of the photo and then curves back around to the left. 
The female looks a little different, but I'm not going to go into the differences other than to say that the female's tail is much shorter and she likes to roost on the ground (she doesn't have to worry about damaging a long tail). 

eBird notes 3,396 observations and only 447 photos. 

1 comment:

  1. I love its polka dot feathers. The tail is a bit show-offy. I wonder what evolutionary purpose the tail serves.