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The Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis) — also called the Common Pauraque to distinguish it from similar species — is a nightjar species, the only bird in the genus Nyctidromus. It breeds in the warmer parts of the New World from southern Texasmarker to northern Argentinamarker. Most populations are resident, although the U.S.marker breeders (N. a. merrilli) may winter in eastern Mexicomarker.

This medium-sized nightjar is 8.7-11 in (22–28 cm) long and has two colour morphs, the plumage being variegated greyish-brown or rufous-brown. It is long-tailed and has broad rounded wings. The buff 'eyering' and 'facial stripe' contrast with the reddish sides of the face.

The adult male Pauraque has a white band near the wing tips, and the outer tail feathers are mainly white. The female's wing band is narrower and the white in the outer tail is more restricted. There are seven races of Pauraque, differing in size and greyness.

The male Pauraque's song is very variable, but includes a whistled weeeow wheeooo, soft puk puk and a whip given in the courtship flight as he flutters around the female. Her call is a rapid succession of whip sounds.

It is found in open woodland/grassland habitats, but also scrubland and crop fields. This species has long legs with bare tarsi, and is more terrestrial than most nightjars. If disturbed, it will sometimes run rather than fly, and frequently rests on roads and tracks. In general it prefers mixed habitat which offers densely vegetated hiding places – ideally forest – for the day, as well as open landscape – perhaps even rivers or wetlands – to hunt at night. The Pauraque is nocturnal, like other nightjars, and starts to fly at dusk. Like its relatives, it feeds on insects caught in flight, usually by flycatching from a low perch, but also by foraging over open ground.

No nest is made; the two elongated and elliptical pinkish eggs are placed upon the bare ground or leaf litter. They are occasionally eaten by smallish mammals, such as the Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus).

Not globally threatened, it is considered a Species of Least Concern by the IUCN. Being an adaptable species that will tolerate human disturbance of habitat well, the Pauraque has actually benefitted from limited deforestation. Logging creates areas of low and secondary growth, in which the birds are able to hunt more efficiently. However, it will of course abandon heavily built-up or clear-cut locales, and in addition it is very vulnerable to predation by feral dogs and cats, disappearing from areas where these pest are abundant.



  • (2006): Composição da avifauna em oito áreas úmidas da Bacia Hidrográfica do Lago Guaíba, Rio Grande do Sul [Bird composition and conservation in eight wetlands of the hidrographic basin of Guaíba lake, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil]. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 14(2): 101-115 [Portuguese with English abstract]. PDf fulltext
  • (1998): Nightjars: a guide to nightjars and related nightbirds. Pica Press, Nr. Robertsbridge (East Sussex). ISBN 1-873403-48-8
  • (2007): Comportamentos interespecíficos entre Callithrix jacchus (Linnaeus) (Primates, Callitrichidae) e algumas aves de Mata Atlântica, Pernambuco, Brasil [Interspecific behaviour between Callithrix jacchus (Linnaeus) (Callitrichidae, Primates) and some birds of the Atlantic forest, Pernanbuco State, Brazil]. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 24(3): 709–716 [Portuguese with English abstract]. PDF fulltext.
  • (1999): Opportunistic adaptations to man-induced habitat changes by some South American Caprimulgidae. [English with Portuguese abstract] Revista Brasileira de Biologia 59(4): 563-566. PDF fulltext

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