Justification of Red List Category
This species is definitely known from only a single (incomplete) specimen from one location. It is reasonable to assume that it is endemic to the Nechisar Plains, and hence is treated as Vulnerable owing to this small range and the potential threat to the habitat from over-exploitation by local people. However, it remains extremely poorly known and further information is needed to validate this evaluation.
The population size of this species has not been quantified; it is considered unlikely to be widespread or common.
The current population trend is unknown as the species is only known from a single wing.
Caprimulgus solala is known from a single wing salvaged from a road corpse on the Nechisar Plains, southern Ethiopia, in 1990 (Safford et al. 1995). The status of the taxon is unknown, but it is unlikely to be widespread or common (Safford et al. 1995). It is precautionarily assumed to be restricted to the Nechisar Plains, an isolated area of probably remnant habitat with the potential for local endemism (S. Butchart in litt. 2005). There have been subsequent possible sightings, including several individuals of a large, reddish-brown nightjar with white tail corners and prominent white wing panels, which were reported from the Nechisar Plains over three nights in April 2009 (Anon 2009, Head 2014).
The dead individual was found by the side of a dirt road in a completely treeless area of the Plains, which are a gently undulating 270 km2 area of natural (edaphic) short grassland on black-lava soil at 1,200 m on the Rift Valley floor (Safford et al. 1995). The Plains are isolated by bushland from any similar short-grass habitat (Safford et al. 1995).
Heavy resource-use is threatening the future of Nechisar National Park, including excessive grazing by domestic livestock, rapid clearance of trees for fuel and construction material for the expanding town of Arba Minch nearby, and illegal fishing (EWNHS 1996). Such resource use is being reduced in the park (www.africanparks-conservation.com). In 1998, a fire started by illegal settlers within the National Park caused considerable damage to an area of c.12 km2 (A. Shimelis in litt. 1998).
Conservation Actions Underway
The Plains lie entirely within Nechisar National Park (Safford et al. 1995) which, although still awaiting gazettement, has been operational since the early 1980s and, up until 1991, was one of the best protected areas in the country, with minimal human use of resources (EWNHS 1996). However, the situation has changed since then (EWNHS 1996). The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organization had a programme to rehabilitate the National Parks of southern Ethiopia, including the resettlement elsewhere of illegal settlers, but this is no longer operational (A. Shimelis in litt. 1998). The management of the park was formerly handed over to the African Parks Foundation on 1 February 2005 (www.africanparks-conservation.com). As of June 2007, negotiations with adjacent communities for the gazettement of the park were still ongoing (www.africanparks-conservation.com). Future surveys of the area are being planned (V. Head in litt. 2016).
Only known from one specimen (of which only one wing was collected), therefore overall appearance uncertain, but likely to look dark, relatively unmarked and similar to female Pennant-winged Nightjar Macrodipteryx vexillarius. The specimen had white tips to at least the outer two tail feathers, a rounded wing, with the wing-coverts marked with large buff spots, and a broad buffish-white band, almost midway along the outerwing, across the four outer primaries (and on the inner web only of the outermost primary). The key point is that the patch lies exceptionally far up the wing (i.e. towards the carpal joint), especially relative to the (strong and easily seen) emargination in the outer primaries (especially P9, the last-but-one). The voice is unknown.
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.
Head, V., Shimelis, A., Cleere, N., Safford, R., Butchart, S.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Caprimulgus solala. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019.