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Jamaican Poorwill Siphonorhis americana
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This species has not been recorded since 1860, and it may have been driven to extinction by introduced mongooses and rats, whose effect may have been exacerbated by habitat destruction. However, it cannot yet be presumed to be Extinct because there have been recent unconfirmed reports, and surveys may possibly have overlooked this nocturnal species. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Gender agreement of species name follows David and Gosselin (2002b).

Siphonorhis americanus Stotz et al. (1996), Siphonorhis americanus Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Siphonorhis americanus BirdLife International (2004), Siphonorhis americanus BirdLife International (2000), Siphonorhis americanus Collar and Andrew (1988), Siphonorhis americanus Collar et al. (1994)

24 cm. Small, long-tailed nightjar. Overall mottled dark brown, narrow white chin patch, reddish-brown hindneck, spotted black and white. Long tail (extending well beyond primaries), tipped white in male and narrowly buff in female. Similar spp. Antillean Nighthawk Chordeiles gundlachii is larger with conspicuous white band in wing, flies high with conspicuous call and, when perched, primaries reach tail tip. Chuck-will's-widow Caprimulgus carolinensis is even larger and reddish-brown, with proportionally shorter tail (extends slightly beyond primaries). Voice Unknown.

Distribution and population
The species is endemic to Jamaica, but has not been positively recorded since 1860. Reference has been made to five specimens, but only four have been located (C. Levy in litt. 1994, 1999). Two specimens (one untraced) were taken in the Great Salt Pond area near Spanishtown in 1857, with others collected in the Bluefields area, near Savanna-la-Mar in western Jamaica, (apparently) at Freeman's Hall near Albert Town and from near Linstead (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, C. Levy in litt. 1994, 1999). Three of these localities (excepting Freeman's Hall) are in the lowlands on the southern side of the island, and there is anecdotal evidence that the species could often be found in (what is now assumed to be) the Hellshire Hills (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Cleere and Nurney 1998, Raffaele et al. 1998, C. Levy in litt. 1994, 1999). However, the specimen information is confused by the practice of labelling skins with the residence of the collector as the location of collection (C. Levy in litt. 1994, 1999). There have been some recent, unconfirmed reports of caprimulgids from Milk River and Hellshire Hills, which apparently do not refer to other known species on the island (Cleere and Nurney 1998).

Population justification
Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals) based on a lack of records since 1860.

Trend justification
The current population trend is unknown as the species has not been recorded since 1860 and may be extinct.

The south side of the island is drier, suggesting that the species is (or was) found in either dry limestone forest, semi-arid woodland or open country at low elevations. It presumably nests (or nested) on the ground.

Introduced mammalian predators are considered primarily responsible for the possible extirpation of this species. The mongoose was introduced in 1872 (after the last confirmed record), but it can be assumed that rats were the cause of any decline prior to this date. As its ecological requirements are not known, the impact of habitat destruction is difficult to assess. However, the loss of at least 75% of original forest, with remaining forest largely secondary, presumably had (and perhaps continues to have) an adverse effect. A proposed transshipment port and industrial centre on the Goat Islands could lead to development and habitat destruction in the neighbouring Hellshire Hills (van Veen et al. 2014), an AZE site for this species (J. Lamoreux in litt. 2014).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey, especially Milk River and the Hellshire Hills, to locate any remaining populations (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998).

Cleere, N.; Nurney, D. 1998. Nightjars: a guide to nightjars and related nightbirds. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, U.K.

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Raffaele, H.; Wiley, J.; Garrido, O.; Keith, A.; Raffaele, J. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London.

van Veen, R., Wilson, B.S., Grant, T. and Hudson, R. 2014. Where to now? An uncertain future for Jamaica's largest endemic vertebrate. Oryx 48(2): 169-171.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A. & Ashpole, J

Levy, C. & Lamoreux, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Siphonorhis americana. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered - Possibly Extinct
Family Caprimulgidae (Nightjars)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species