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Southern Cross - Pennant-Winged Nightjar (1998)

Ink wash on watercolor paper
23" x 17"
 A fantastic-looking spectacle of southern Africa is the male pennant-winged nightjar (Cosmetornis vexillarius) in breeding plumage. The inner primaries of this bird form a pair of "pennants" that can trail over two feet behind him. During his nuptual display he flies in low circles, emitting a strange katydid-like twitter. Finding an exposed perch like this termitarium, he then spreads his wings, slowly rotating them. Soon after breeding the inner-most primary is dropped, but the rest of his moult does not continue until after the migration north of the equator for the austral winter, which often is executed in flocks. A member of the same order that includes the American nighthawks and whip-poor-wills, the pennant-winged nightjar feeds in the manner characteristic of the group, on insects captured in flight.