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Nightjars of the World

Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird and Owlet-Nightjars of the World

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Nightjars of the World

Nightjars of the World


The Bottom Line

Nighthawks, nightjars and similar birds are some of the most elusive and difficult to identify birds on the planet, but thanks to Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird and Owlet-Nightjars of the World birders can now study these intriguing birds in great detail from the comfort of their own home. With more than 580 photos covering all the world's species of these related birds, this book is the definitive reference on Caprimulgiformes and a must have for any birder who enjoys these unique birds.


  • Includes more than 580 superb, detailed photos of these enigmatic bird species.
  • Comprehensive information on Caprimulgiformes, conversationally explained to be accessible to birders of any level but detailed enough to serve as a reference for ornithologists.


  • Lacks any checkboxes or other means for readers to keep a sightings list.
  • Text information with species accounts is brief, so much so that it could be considered sparse, but is still relatively complete considering the lack of extensive research on many of these birds and the completeness of the overall introduction.


  • Title: Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird and Owlet-Nightjars of the World
  • Author: Nigel Cleere
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication Date: August 2010
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Bird Artwork: Photographs
  • Dimensions: 10" (25.4 cm) tall, 7.25" (18.4 cm) wide, 1.3 " (3.3 cm) thick
  • Page Count: 464
  • ISBN: 978-0-691-14857-1
  • Price: $45.00 (USD)

Review - Backyard Birds of [State] Series

Nighthawks, potoos, nightjars and related species are target birds for many birders, but are often extremely difficult to see because of their nocturnal habits and superbly camouflaged plumage that hides them during their daytime roosting hours. Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird and Owlet-Nightjars of the World, however, gives all birders the unprecedented opportunity to enjoy these birds through more than 580 crisp, detailed photos, extensive introductory information and species details for all 135 of these birds worldwide.

The 50-page introduction initiates readers and birders alike into the remarkable world of Caprimulgiformes (also known as goatsuckers) with a discussion of the related families, bits of trivia, worldwide family distribution maps, taxonomy and a discussion of the different plumage patterns that make these birds distinct. The labeled photos of full birds, faces, feet and wings on pages 20-25 orient birders to the anatomy of these uniquely proportioned birds. Other information in the introduction includes feeding habits, nesting and other behavioral details common to many of these birds.

Because the introduction is so extensive and these birds share many common characteristics, the text included with each individual species account is limited to only the basic details of each bird, but with enough information to be thorough. Details listed with each species include:

  • Common and Latin name
  • Subspecies names
  • Overall length
  • Key field marks for identification
  • Similar species and how they can be differentiated
  • Detailed range map with subspecies' ranges labeled where appropriate
  • Habitat description
  • Breeding season and egg description
  • Vocalizations
  • Endangered or threatened status

Multiple photos are included with each species, though 18 species in the book are shown in museum specimen photos only; these are generally more rare and hard to find species. Most species include multiple, large photos that show extraordinary detail, and additional species accounts also include museum photos for completeness. Different postures and flight photos are included where available, though most birds are shown only in typical perched positions – exactly how birders are likely to encounter them.

A glossary of essential terms is included, as well as a list of extinct birds in these related families. The chart of alternative English (common) names on pages 443-7 is especially useful for birders around the world and for eliminating confusion about how one bird can go by several names. The index includes both the common and scientific names of each bird and is conveniently color coded to denote where photos, range maps and full accounts are located in the book.

Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird and Owlet-Nightjars of the World is a comprehensive, definitive work about these extraordinary birds, and gives readers and birders alike the opportunity to enjoy them. What's more, because part of the proceeds from each sale of this book go to help support BirdLife International's Preventing Extinctions Programme, enjoying this book will bring every birder one step closer to enjoying these birds in the field through habitat preservation, research and other critical conservation steps, making it an ideal addition to every birder's bookshelf.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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