6 No 2
Otters in Sight
at Sungei Buloh
at Sungei Buloh
by the Park
a flight into the life of a night flier
with Senior Ranger Ramakrishnan RK
Journal of a Nature Warden
Bird watching at Sungei Buloh Nature Park would be a more enriching experience if you come across this unique bird, the Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus). It is more often heard than seen, calling from dusk till dawn from its perch. During the day, the Large-tailed Nightjar sits motionless among dead leaves along the sides of paths. The basic colour of its plumage is greyish-brown with buffy underparts lined with numerous black bars. Its plumage blends in with the habitat during the day, keeping it camouflaged from predators and humans.
The Nightjar starts to fly after sunset and is active throughout the night. Its "ghost-like" flight is almost similar to the moth's. The characteristic call of a Nightjara loud monotonous "chonk" is most often heard when the sky is clear. Feeding takes place during flight when the Nightjar uses its jar-like mouth as a sweep net to catch insects such as moths, large beetles and mosquitoes. The bristles found near the base of the bill suggest that they act as an organ of touch for catching prey.
The Nightjar has been observed to breed from March to June. Nest building is not required as the eggs are laid on the ground. The female lays between 1 to 2 elliptical-shaped eggs, which are creamy-white mottled with brown weighing 8-9gms. The first egg is usually heavier and larger. Both parents share incubation duties (16 to 18 days) with the female incubating during the day while the male takes over from dusk until dawn.
Nightjar nestlings have down feathers after hatching. Their eyes are fully opened by the second or third day. The nestlings are moved from one spot to another to avoid detection by predators. When disturbed during nesting, the Nightjar flies to a different location and performs a distraction display, flapping on the ground as if it has a broken wing. This art of display is to draw the intruder away from its nest. The nestlings on the other hand will display a flapping of wings with their mouths wide open and lunge forward when threatened.
Do try to spot this remarkable bird sitting by the side of the routes on your next visit to the Park. But remember not to pick up any eggs found along the routes as they may belong to this unique bird.
© Sungei Buloh Nature Park