You might think that nesting on the ground in leaf litter is a risky strategy for birds. Being on the ground makes them vulnerable to many predators, right? Not if you are as superbly camouflaged as a nightjar.

This video recently uploaded on the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council shows just how highly camouflaged these birds are. We challenge you to spot them before the camera starts zooming in!

The video is a result of research being conducted by the Sensory Ecology research group at the University of Exeter, led by Dr Martin Stevens.

“In recent years, we’ve learnt that camouflage is more complex than people often think. It’s not just a matter of looking like the background – it’s way more complex than that.”

The Sensory Ecology Project Nightjar team have produced two citizen science games to find out about animal perception, and how it differs between predator types. You can try your hand at being a nightjar predator, and spot a nesting nightjar or a group of eggs.

It contributes to science as you can play as either a monkey or a mongoose. Monkeys have the same colour vision as we do, but mongooses have dichromatic vision. The data collected from playing as different predators will let the researchers investigate which predator the nightjar is best camouflaged from.

Over 15,000 people have taken part so far, why don’t you give it a try? It’s harder and more fun than you might think!


You can tweet the researchers @SensoryEcology

Try and spot an adult nightjar in this game

Or try and spot a nest with eggs in this one, and contribute to science! If you have a competitive spirit, then there’s also a leader board to try and reach the top of.