restricted access Nightjars and barn owl
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Fiery-necked Nightjar L: 24 cm (9") This nightjar has pale corners to the tail – white in the male and buff in the female . It also has white patches in the wings, although these are less extensive than in Square-tailed Nightjar . At rest, it shows extensive chestnut on the cheeks (Squaretailed Nightjar has brown-grey cheeks), but the identification of perched nightjars can be difficult . This is the commonest resident (although some may migrate) nightjar in Kruger and is found in most types of woodland . Its loud, tremulous, whistling call “Good Lord, deliver us” is an evocative and frequent sound of the savannah at night . Square-tailedNightjar L:24cm(9") This is the only nightjar in Kruger with a pale trailing edge to the wings and entirely pale outer tail feathers – white in the male and buff (in poor light can appear dark) in the female . At rest, it differs from the Fiery-necked Nightjar by having more white in the upperwing, and browngrey (rather than chestnut) cheeks . It is a common resident throughout Kruger in wooded areas, although it is more patchily distributed in the north . The call is a long, monotonous, low, insect-like “rrrrrrrrrrrrr” . Kruger is rich in nocturnal birds, supporting 11 owls and six nightjars. Some of these can be seen within camps; others are only likely to be encountered on official night drives, or with specific searching. Nightjars have small bills but wide gapes, rather flat heads, long wings, long, broad tails and tiny feet.They catch insects in the air, either in twisting flight or during brief sallies from the ground. Owls are familiar upright, large-headed nightbirds with large, forward-pointing eyes. Nightjars and barn owl square-tailed nightjar fiery-necked nightjar 208 Barn Owl L: 36 cm (14") A medium-sized, ghostly pale owl with a distinctive heart-shaped face . It has creamy-buff underparts and golden upperparts flecked with silver-grey . This is a fairly common resident throughout Kruger, favouring open savannah, restcamps or areas with clearings, although numbers probably fluctuate depending on rodent abundance . Barn Owls fly slowly and buoyantly over open areas looking for prey, especially rodents . They have an extraordinary adaptation for hunting small mammals that have acute hearing: small serrations on the leading edge of the wing reduce turbulence and help them fly silently . The distinctive call is a piercing “schreeeee” scream that sounds demonic, and has inspired folk names such as ‘death owl’ or ‘hobgoblin owl’ . Despite being a successful predator, Barn Owls themselves often fall prey to larger owls . NIGHT BIRDS 209 ...