Caprimulgus vociferus A. Wilson, 1812 — Overview

Eastern Whip-poor-will learn more about names for this taxon

IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Brief Summary

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Caprimulgus vociferus

Named for its onomatopoeic nighttime song, the Eastern Whip-poor-will is far more likely to be heard than seen. This nightjar is mottled brown overall with a white throat and large eyes. If seen, the Eastern Whip-poor-will may be separated from other nightjars by its size (9 ½ inches) and striking white tail patches. Males and females are similar to one another in all seasons. The Eastern Whip-poor-will breeds in the northeastern United States and southern Canada, from Nova Scotia south to Georgia and from the Mid-Atlantic west to central Nebraska and Saskatchewan. In winter, this species may be found along the coast from South Carolina to Texas, as well as in Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. A group of Whip-poor-wills breeding in Arizona and New Mexico and wintering in central Mexico was recently discovered to be a separate species, the Western Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus arizonae). In summer, the Eastern Whip-poor-will breeds in deciduous or mixed deciduous and evergreen woodland, where they nest on the ground and roost pressed close to low branches. In winter, this species may be in similar habitats as in summer as well as in tropical forests and scrub habitats. The Eastern Whip-poor-will mainly eats flying insects. Due to its coloration and densely vegetated habitat, the Eastern Whip-poor-will is difficult to see during the day. Often, birdwatchers discover Eastern Whip-poor-wills on their nests by almost tripping over them while walking through the woods. Eastern Whip-poor-wills are more easily observed feeding at dusk, when they may be seen flying after insects and scooping them up with their beaks. This species is primarily active at dusk or dawn, but may also forage in the afternoon or late at night.


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