Birds are nocturnal and crepuscular. They live in a variety of landscapes, often a combination of trees and shrubs with open spaces. Due to the very long wings, the flight is relatively slow, but maneuverable and quiet. Often, after two or three deep flaps of the wings, they plan on motionlessly spaced wings, they can hover in one place, fluttering their wings. They feed mainly on nocturnal flying insects. They are caught mainly on the fly, but also from the surface of the ground, vegetation and bushes.
It is difficult to notice seated birds on the ground or branches, thanks to the patronizing color of the plumage with a streaky pattern and the habit of birds to sit motionless. Some species sit along the branches of trees, rather than across, like most birds. This mechanism allows them to hide better during the daytime. They rarely walk and reluctantly, they do not sit in dense tall grass, preferring bare areas of land.
Monogamous, but couples are fickle. They nest on the ground. The type of development is nestling. No special nest is made. Eggs are laid directly on the soil, more often on needles, last year's foliage, the dust of a rotted tree. In the place where the eggs lie, a small depression forms as they incubate.
The family unites 89 species, of which 6 are in one way or another at risk of extinction and are protected by the Red Book of the World Conservation Union. In particular, the critically endangered CR taxon has the Puerto Rican nightjar Caprimulgus noctitherus and the Jamaica species Siphonorhis americana. Nightjars are widespread in the world, but they are absent in the northern taiga and polar regions, in the hottest deserts and on remote oceanic islands.
The numerous genus Caprimulgus is widespread almost all over the world, numbering more than 50 species. In Eastern Europe and North Asia, only three species of nightjars are common, all belonging to this genus.
Two species of nightjars nest in the avifauna of Russia - the common Caprimulgus europaeus and the large Caprimulgus indicus. The first is widespread in the European part of the country and southern Siberia to the east to the Mongolian border, the second from Transbaikalia to Primorye. The common, as well as the Virginian twilight nightjar Chordeiles minor inhabiting North America to Canada, are distant migrants, moving in winter to tropical regions of Africa and South America, respectively. the American white-chinned, inhabiting the Great Plains, has a unique ability of all birds to go into a kind of hibernation - a torpor that can last from several weeks to several months. The rest of the species living in warmer latitudes are either sedentary or nomadic, or winter at a relatively short distance from the nesting area. Among the latter are the red-necked nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, and the red-cheeked nightjar Caprimulgus rufigena from South Africa.
Traditionally, the family is divided into two subfamilies: the more extensive Caprimulginae, which unites about 70 species distributed in both hemispheres, and Chordeilinae, with 9 species from the western hemisphere. In terms of external characteristics, both groups have much in common, although representatives of Caprimulginae have softer plumage, and there are hard bristles in the corners of the mouth, which the bird most likely uses to direct food or protect eyes from flying solid insects. Some taxonomic systems, such as the Sibley-Alqvist classification based on the analysis of DNA hybridization, distinguishes 7 species from the genus of South Asian nightjars Eurostopodus into an independent family Eurostopodidae
- Genus Semi-collared nightjars Lurocalis - 2 species
- Subfamily Chordeilinae
- Genus Ribbon nightjars Nyctiprogne - 2 species
- Genus Twilight Nightjars Chordeiles - 5 species
- Genus White-bellied nightjars Podager - 1 species
- Genus Lyre-tailed nightjars Macropsalis - 1 species
- Genus Haitian nightjars Siphonorhis - 2 species
- Genus Pennant nightjars Macrodipteryx - 2 species
- Genus Banded nightjars Systellura - 1 species
- Genus Nyctipolus - 2 species
- Genus Serpentine nightjars Eleothreptus - 2 species
- Genus Ocellated nightjars Nyctiphrynus - 4 species
- Subfamily Caprimulginae
- Genus Nightjars Caprimulgus - 40 species
- Genus Nightjars-pore Nyctidromus - 2 species
- Genus Brown nightjars Veles - 1 species
- Genus Setopagis - 4 species
- Genus Swallow nightjars Uropsalis - 2 species
- Genus White-chinned nightjars Phalaenoptilus - 1 species
- Genus Sharp-tailed nightjars Hydropsalis - 4 species
- Genus Antrostomus - 12 species
- Subfamily Eurostopodinae
- Lyncornis temminckii - Malayan South Asian nightjar
- Genus Lyncornis - 2 species
- Genus South Asian nightjars Eurostopodus - 2 species
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