This species is found east of the Andes and inhabits open savanna areas. It is the smallest nightjar in the country. His name Chordeiles means that he dances at sunset and derives from the Greek roots khoreia = dance and deile = sunset. Its epithet pusillus derives from Latin and means tiny or very small.


It is15 to 19 cm of lenght. It has dark brown irises, blackish bill and brown legs. Their brownish upperparts stained grayish-white, buff and pale tawny. Their wing coverts are also brownish heavily spotted with buff. Its underparts are brown with spots and bars before which it turns white with brown bars on the belly and flanks. There is also a small white patch on the lower throat or small white spots on both sides of the lower throat. The male has a white band on the four outermost primary feathers and the inner rear edge of the wing is also white. It also has white on the tips of the tail except for the central feathers. The female has a thinner wing band than the male, the inner rear edge of the wing is buffy and lacks white tips on some or all of the tail feathers. The immature ones are similar to the adults.

Similar species

It is the smallest nightjar. It can be confused with the Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis) but is distinguished from it by the inner posterior edge of the pale wing.

Regional Differences

Six subspecies C. p. septentrionalis, C. p. esmeraldae, C. p. xerophilus, C. p. novaesi, C. p. pusillus and C. p. saturatus, which differ mainly in size, coloration, and baring of the lower parts. Only the first two are in Colombia.


This species is found in eastern Colombia, southern Venezuela, western Suriname, northern and central Brazil, easternmost Bolivia, and extreme northeastern Argentina. In Colombia it is found to the east of the Andes from the department of Meta to the east to the Orinoco River, to the south to the department of Vaupés and the southeast of Guainía.


Its habitat is savanna and grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs. It is also found in forest clearings, farm fields, and flooded grasslands.


This bird feeds mainly on insects although it is not precisely known which groups.


In Colombia, individuals in reproductive condition have been registered in the month of January. Nests have also been reported in the months of January and November in Brazil and eggs in October in Argentina. It lays a single egg on stony soils in places with scattered bushes. Their eggs are creamy white with brown and gray-purple spots and are incubated for 23 to 25 days by the female. The care of the young is carried out by both parents.


They are often found alone or in pairs, but sometimes they form groups of several individuals. It is a kind of twilight habit and is often seen flying over open terrain capturing insects on the fly. Some populations are likely to make local or longer seasonal movements. Its flight is buoyant and erratic.


Formerly classified in the monotypic genus Nannochordeiles.

Conservation Status

In the international field, it is considered a species of least concern.

Vocalization/ Song



Avibase 2015. Chordeiles pusillus. Downloaded from http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp?lang=EN&avibaseid=24E39ACD5692DA4A on 01/30/2013.

Cleere, N. Chordeiles pusillus. Pp 333-334 In: Del-Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sardatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the Wold. Vol 5. Barn Owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx editions. Barcelona. 759p.

Hilty, S. L. and W. L. Brown. 2001. Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princetn. Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ

IUCN 2015. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. Downloaded on 30 Jan 2015.

Jobling, C. 2010. The Helm dictionary of scientific birds names. Christopher Helm and A & C Black Publishers Ltda. London.