Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European breeding population is estimated at 101,000-140,000 calling or lekking males, which equates to 202,000-281,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c. 35% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 575,000-805,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction (del Hoyo et al. 1999). The European population is estimated to be decreasing (BirdLife International 2015).


The species typically uses lowlands and hillsides, with scattered vegetation and bare ground, in pine woodland, coastal forest, eucalyptus or olive plantations, vineyards, open scrubland with cork oak (Quercus suber), prickly pear (Opuntia) or scattered trees, and dense thickets of broom, gorse (Ulex), bramble (Rubus fruticosus), tree heath (Erica arborea) or pistachio (Pistacea lentiscus) (Cleere et al. 2013). In south-west Spain it is attracted towards the warmth of paved roads during migration and during cool weather (temperature below 20°C) or low temperatures (below 14°C), with paved roads providing significantly warmer substrate than gravelled or sandy areas (Camacho 2013). It breeds from early May to late August in Spain and Portugal and mid-May to August in central Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia (Cleere et al. 2013). It usually lays one to two eggs (Cuadrado and Domínguez 1996). The eggs are laid directly on the ground, on leaf litter or pine needles. It feeds on flying and flightless insects. The species is migratory, wintering in west Africa although the exact range is unclear (Cleere et al. 2013).


In the Algarve region of Spain the species is declining due to habitat loss and disturbance from the tourist industry. More broadly loss of habitat due to urbanization or agriculture probably is the biggest threat. In cultivated areas, nests are often at risk from agricultural activities. The impacts of predation are poorly documented, but in southern Spain eggs and chicks may be taken by lizards (Lacerta lepida), snakes and foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Their habit of perching on tarmac in cooler weather makes them vulnerable to collision with vehicles (Cleere et al. 2013).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are no known current conservation measures for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research on the species's biology and ecology is needed to help inform conservation measures (Forero et al. 2001). In addition, the impacts and extent of predation should be investigated. Key sites for the species should be identified and protection from development and disturbance ensured.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J.

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