Palau Nightjar Caprimulgus phalaena


Justification of Red List Category
This newly-split species has a very small range on a single island, and is presumed to have a single, small population, although no good population estimate has yet been obtained. It has been listed as Near Threatened as potential threats to the species are not currently thought to be sufficient to cause a continuing decline, although there are no data available on population trend. Any evidence for a continuing decline would most likely lead to its uplisting to Endangered, and an improved population estimate could also lead to its reclassification.

Population justification
No population estimate is known, but given its very small range (380 km2) the total population is presumed to be small, and a preliminary estimate therefore places the population in the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals.

Trend justification
It was previously described as uncommon and declining (Pratt et al. 1980, 1987), however it is not clear whether the population is currently in decline, as the species is probably tolerant of some habitat modification, and the impacts of existing levels of land-use change and habitat degradation may only have minimal impacts. The population is therefore provisionally suspected to be stable.

Distribution and population

Caprimulgus phalaena is endemic to the island of Palau, where it is thought to be uncommon (Holyoak 2001, Cleere 2010).


Found in mangroves, edges of lowland forest or damp, shady forest (Holyoak 2001, Cleere 2010). Roosts on the ground in leaf litter or perched length ways along branches (Cleere in litt. 2016). Hunts low along the ground and on invertebrates including moths, beetles, grasshoppers, locusts, flying ants and wasps (Cleere in litt. 2016). Clutch size is 1-2 eggs laid on leaf litter, bare earth or pine needles, with an incubation period of 16-19 days (Cleere in litt. 2016).


The species is probably tolerant of some habitat modification, and the impacts of existing levels of land-use change and habitat degradation may have only had minimal impacts. The potential arrival of invasive predators such as Brown Tree Snake Boiga irregularis could present a significant future threat.


21-23 cm. A fairly small, brown nightjar with chestnut-brown on the mantle, back and central tail feathers. Cryptically patterned with white tips to all but the central tail feathers and a small white patch on the outer primaries in the male; in the female these areas are chestnut-brown. The undertail and underwing coverts are almost entirely black. Similar species. C. indicus is considerably larger and greyer, has rufous-barred undertail and underwing coverts and larger white patches in the wing and tail. Voice. Apparently not confirmed.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Martin, R, Taylor, J., Symes, A., North, A.

Cleere, N.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Caprimulgus phalaena. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/06/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/06/2020.