The amazing display of the Standard-winged Nightjar

Why Evolution Is True

by Matthew Cobb

About 20 months ago we discussed the amazing Peruvian lyre-tailed nightjar, with its fabulous streamer feathers. This morning a rather different, and extraordinary nightjar tailfeather adaptation popped into my inbox, thanks to the Nightjar News email newsletter. It included information about the Standard-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus longipennis), which sounds kind of… standard, until I realised that by ‘standard’ they mean ‘flag’. Here’s a picture of a male, by Paul Cools.


Those things behind him are his tailfeathers – they are what prompted the species name: longipennis (long feather). Nightjar News explains:

The Standard-winged Nightjar is one of the more impressive members of the Caprimulgid family. This true nightjar species breeds in dry savannah habitat of central Africa. During the breeding season, the male grows highly-specialized wing feathers up to 38 cm long, primarily of bare shaft with feather plumes on the end. The feathers are used…

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