What Do Nightjars Eat? 12 Foods They Eat

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You may not think of it as an animal, but the Nightjar is a bird. With their mottled earth-colored feathers, they are well camouflaged during the day when they roost on the ground. However, at night, their cryptic plumage does little to conceal them as they forage for insects in open areas lit by the moon or stars. So, what do nightjars eat?

Active only at dusk and dawn, Nightjars spend much of their time perched on a tree branch or fence post, waiting for prey to fly by. When insects brush past them, they snatch it out of the air with their beak (or sometimes with their feet!). Insects aren’t the only thing on the menu for Nightjars – they will also eat small rodents, snakes, and lizards.

Despite their nocturnal habits, Nightjars are not blind – they can see quite well in low light conditions. However, their eyes are not very good at picking up color, so they primarily use their other senses (including hearing and smell) to locate food and mates.

What Do Nightjars Eat?

The Nightjar is a nocturnal bird that is most active at night. This can make it challenging to know what they eat during the day. However, experts believe that their diet consists mainly of insects. They will also sometimes eat fruit and nectar to sustain themselves.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Nightjar, you’ll likely hear them before you see them. Their distinctive “chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck” call often sounds like a horse galloping. You might also listen to them make a “potato-chip” noise or a “purring” sound.

As most insectivores do – these feathered creatures prefer bugs over other animals or plant life forms- there’s always room for variety when you’re feeding your pet nightjars at home with fresh vegetables from their garden plot(s). Here are some foods that they eat:

what do nightjars eat
Moths are their favorite.


Nightjar eats moths because it is an insectivore. The primary food source for these nocturnal birds is insects, and moths make up a large part of their diet. While they will eat other insects, moths are a favorite food source for nightjars.


Like moths, crickets are also part of the Nightjar’s regular diet. Crickets are insects that are easily found in nature and make for a good meal for these birds. Nightjars will typically eat any cricket they can find, including field crickets, house crickets, and camel crickets.


Beetles are another type of insect that nightjars enjoy eating. There are many different types of beetles that these birds will eat, including ladybugs, fireflies, and lightning bugs. While nightjars will eat almost any type of beetle, their favorite type of beetle to eat is the glowworm beetle.


Spiders might not seem like something that a nightjar would eat, but they do! Nightjars eat spiders and even venomous spiders like the black widow spider. While most people think of spiders as creepy and dangerous, nightjars see them as tasty treats!


Fruit is not typical for nightjars, but they will occasionally eat it. Nightjars typically only eat fruit if there is no other food available or if they are starving. Some of the fruits that nightjars have been known to eat include grapes, berries, and melon.


Flies are another type of insect that nightjars like to eat. While they will eat most flies, their favorites are moths and crane flies. Nightjars will also eat other insects like bees, wasps, and mosquitoes.

what do nightjars eat
Nightjars often eat flies also.


Mayflies are a type of insect that nightjars enjoy eating. While they will eat most types of mayflies, their favorites are the green drake and the brown drake. Nightjars will also eat other insects like bees, wasps, and mosquitoes.


Wasps are another type of insect that nightjars like to eat. While they will eat most types of wasps, their favorites are the paper wasp and the yellow jacket. Nightjars will also eat other insects like bees, flies, and mosquitoes.


Mosquitoes are another type of insect that nightjars consume. While they will finish most mosquitoes, their favorites include the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito. Other insects eaten by nightjars include bees, flies, and wasps.


Grasshoppers are another type of insect that nightjars enjoy eating. While they will eat most grasshoppers, their favorites are the Mormon cricket and the migratory locust. Nightjars will also eat other insects like bees, flies, and wasps.


Another insect that nightjars consume is the caterpillar. While they will eat most types of caterpillars, their favorites are the monarch butterfly and gypsy moth caterpillars. You may also catch nightjars eating bees, flies, and wasps, among other insects.


Centipedes are another type of insect that nightjars enjoy eating. While they will eat most types of centipedes, their favorites are the house centipede and the giant redheaded centipede. Nightjars also consume other insects like bees, flies, and wasps.

How Do Nightjars Hunt?

Nightjars typically hunt at night, using their excellent night vision and hearing to locate their prey. They will also perch on branches or in bushes and wait for their prey to come to them. The Nightjar will swoop down and snatch it up in its beak when an insect walks by! The back of the Nightjar’s mouth is lined with spines, which help to keep the insect from escaping.

what do nightjars eat
A nightjar is resting during day time.

This allows the bird to eat its prey without killing it first. Nightjars will also sometimes chase after their prey on the ground. They have long claws on their feet, which help them grip the ground as they run.

During their hunting activities, nightjars will often make a distinctive sound described as a “chuck-will’s-widow.” This noise is made by the male Nightjar and is used to attract females for breeding purposes. It is also thought to help keep other males away from the bird’s territory.

Nightjars have an incredible range of vision, with some even capable of seeing in low-light conditions. Their large eyes can take in a lot of light, helping the bird see at night. In addition to their excellent vision, nightjars also have excellent hearing. This allows them to locate their prey, even if hidden from sight.

Nightjars are small to medium-sized birds with long tails and short legs. They have giant mouths and beaks, which they use to capture their prey. Nightjars also have large eyes, which help them to see in the dark. Their plumage is usually brown or gray, with some species having markings of white or cream.

Nightjars possess great agility in flight, which helps them catch their prey. They are also very good at flying without making any noise, which allows them to surprise their game. The Nightjar’s diet consists primarily of insects. However, they will also occasionally eat fruit or spiders if necessary. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these nocturnal birds, you’ll likely hear them before you see them!

What Do Nightjars Do During the Day?

During the day, nightjars typically roost in trees or on the ground. They will often find a spot near the edge of a forest or in an open area so they can keep an eye out for predators. Nightjars will also roost in caves or abandoned buildings.

At night, nightjars become more active and will begin hunting for food. They will also engage in courtship behaviors during this time. After mating, female nightjars will lay their eggs on the ground, typically in an open area. The eggs will hatch after about two weeks.

The chicks are born blind and cannot fly. They will stay with their mother for several weeks before becoming independent. Nightjars typically live for about ten years in the wild. However, some individuals have been known to live for 20 years!

Wrapping Up

Even though these animals typically hunt at night – you can still find them out and about during the daytime. If you do see one – don’t be alarmed. Just know that they’re probably just taking a little break from their busy lives of chasing down food all night long! And if you have any pets at home, make sure to keep an eye on them too – because as small as they are, nightjars can be quite dangerous to your furry friends!

You can also read:

What Do Hornbills Eat? A Complete Guide 2022

Do Hummingbirds Eat Insects? 12 Insects They Eat!

What Do Hummingbirds Eat? 6 Foods They Love

What Do Hippopotamus Eat? A Complete Guide 2022

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