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Ladder-tailed Nightjar is a widespread inhabitant of Amazonia, where it is generally fairly common, at least locally. This nightjar is found along forested rivers, on beaches, and on the banks of oxbow lakes. Pairs often roost in close proximity. The tail of Ladder-tailed Nightjar is long, and has a peculiar shape: the longest rectrices are the central and the outermost pairs, creating a double notch. Males have a white throat, a white band on the primaries, and extensive white edgings to the outer rectrices. Females are distinguished by their much shorter tail, lack of a white throat patch, and the lack of white in the wings and tail. Both sexes display a buff collar across the nape. Geographic variation in Ladder-tailed Nightjar seems slight, although currently four subspecies are recognized. Locally Ladder-tailed Nightjar occurs up to 2600 m, but principally it is a species of the lowlands.