Prigogine's Nightjar Caprimulgus prigoginei


Justification of Red List Category
This enigmatic species remains known with certainty from a single specimen, although sound recordings indicate that it may be more widespread. It is thus very difficult to assess its status. It is currently classified as Endangered because it has a very small range, within which forest clearance is likely to be causing declines. If future survey work confirms its presence elsewhere, as is already being suggested in two new countries, this would significantly increase its known range and call for re-assessment of its threatened status.

Population justification
The population of this species is assumed to be small (fewer than 10,000 individuals) based on the fact that there are no confirmed records since the original specimen was collected in 1955. It is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals here, equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be in decline owing to the continued clearance of forest for cultivation and livestock-grazing (Omari et al.1999). The likely rate of decline has not been estimated.

Distribution and population

Caprimulgus prigoginei remains known from a single female collected in August 1955 at Malenge, in the Itombwe Mountains of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Dowsett-Lemaire 2009). A sound recording of two nightjars, in Itombwe at c.1,700 m in 1996, very probably refers to this species (T. Butynski in litt. 1999). Identical tape-recordings were obtained in northern Congo in 1996 (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998a) and south-east Cameroon in 1997 (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2000a), suggesting that the species may be more widespread. Additional records of nightjars that probably refer to this species (Butchart 2007) have come from Gabon in 1985 (Brosset and Erard 1986, F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2006), and Congo (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998a, F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2006) and Cameroon (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998b) in the 1990s.


It is possible that the species is restricted to transitional (between lowland and montane) forest in which the type was found at 1,280 m (Prigogine 1974, Louette 1990). However, at this altitude it may equally well be found in either lowland or montane forest (Prigogine 1974, Louette 1990), and given the paucity of records, it may range from 350-1,860m (N. Cleere in litt. 2016). Based on observations of birds that are probably this species, it appears to prefer forest with a broken canopy (Dowsett-Lemaire 2009).


Forest clearance for smallholder agriculture is a serious threat in Itombwe, where a maize blight since the early 1990s has reduced yields and forced farmers to clear forest for new farms (Omari et al. 1999). Clearance of forest for livestock-grazing, particularly at higher altitudes, is also a threat (Omari et al. 1999).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Itombwe Forest has recently been gazetted as a community reserve, although the boundaries still need to be defined (A. Plumptre in litt. 2007). No other potentially relevant conservation action is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys in northern Congo and south-east Cameroon and mistnet the species to confirm whether records refer to C. prigoginei or a new species (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2000). Conduct surveys in forest in the region using tape play-back to clarify its range (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2000). Conduct surveys in suitable habitat in the Itombwe Mountains. Facilitate conservation action in collaboration with traditional authorities to limit further habitat degradation (Omari et al. 1999).


19 cm. Small nightjar, described from one female specimen. It looks vaguely similar to female Fiery-necked Nightjar C. pectoralis. Voice It is presently not known how to identify this species but if sound recordings of unidentified nightjars prove to be of this species, then its song is very similar to C. natalensis.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.

Cleere, N., Plumptre, A., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Butynski, T.M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Caprimulgus prigoginei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/05/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/05/2020.