Medium-sized, typical nightjar with strong scaly markings on the back. Both sexes have a broad pale patch on the outer tail that is white in males and buff in females. Found in wet grassland and open savanna, including palm savanna. Song is a distinctive series of loud “chow” notes. Most similar to Square-tailed Nightjar, but has larger pale patches in the outer tail and a blackish cheek. Male Swamp Nightjar lacks a white trailing edge to the wing in flight. Also similar to Montane Nightjar, but paler, lacks rufous collar, and has little overlap in either habitat or range.