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Nightjars: Caprimulgidae

Whip-poor-will (caprimulgus Vociferus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Whip-poor-wills range in length from 9 to 10 inches (23 to 26 centimeters). They weigh from 1.5 to 2.4 ounces (42 to 69 grams). Their patterned plumage is brown, gray, and, white.

These birds have rounded wings. Their feet are so tiny that whip-poor-wills perch on trees length-wise, as if lying on their sides.

The whip-poor-will is named for its call. People thought they heard the bird, say, "whip-poor-will." Birds make this call as the sky becomes dark at night and just before dawn when skies lighten. Whip-poor-wills also call their name at night, especially when the moon is visible.

Geographic range: Whip-poor-wills live in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and Central American countries including Honduras.

Habitat: Whip-poor-wills live in pine forests, deciduous forests, and open land where there are fewer trees.

Diet: Whip-poor-wills eat moths, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and other insects.

Behavior and reproduction: Whip-poor-wills are nocturnal. Their breeding season starts at the beginning of May. Birds mate in areas ranging from Canada to Mexico, and then migrate south for the winter.

After mating, the female whip-poor-will nests on the ground and lays two eggs on leaves. The female incubates the eggs. The male sometimes incubates, too. The eggs hatch in nineteen to twenty days. The female cares for the chicks, and the male brings them food at night. When the chicks are twenty days old, they can fly.

The female and male may breed again and produce a second clutch of two eggs. If the female is caring for the first brood, the male looks after the second clutch.

Whip-poor-wills and people: The whip-poor-will hides so well that people know the bird mainly by its call.

Conservation status: Whip-poor-wills are not in danger of extinction. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsNightjars: Caprimulgidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Whip-poor-will (caprimulgus Vociferus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, NIGHTJARS AND PEOPLE