Chuck-will's-widowCaprimulgus carolinensis

adult
Herbert Clarke/VIREO
adult
Herbert Clarke/VIREO
adult
Dr. Michael Stubblefield/VIREO
adult
Rob & Ann Simpson/VIREO
Chuck-will's-widow
Chuck-will's-widow

Family

Description

12" (30 cm). Pigeon-sized. Larger than the Whip-poor-will. Buff-brown body, brown chin.

Voice

A mellow chuck-will's-widow, repeated over and over, the chuck deep and low, the rest of the call whistled.

Listen

song
wing claps and croaks
aug-aug-aug calls
various croaks

Habitat

Open woodlands and clearings near agricultural country.

Range

Breeds from Kansas, Indiana, and Long Island south to Gulf Coast states. Winters chiefly in tropics, but a few winter in Florida and along Gulf Coast.

Discussion

The "Chuck" is nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. When flushed, it flies off a short distance, then drops to the ground again. These birds hunt close to the ground, catching flying insects such as moths, beetles, and winged ants and termites. They have occasionally been reported to prey on warblers and sparrows.

Nesting

2 creamy-white eggs, with purple and brown markings, on bare ground or dead leaves.

Similar Species

adult

Buff-collared Nightjar

9" (23 cm). Mottled gray-brown with buff collar. Male has white patches at corners of tail.

adult

Eastern Whip-poor-will

10" (25 cm). Robin-sized. A leaf-brown, strictly nocturnal bird with black throat. Male has broad white tips on outer tail feathers, visible in flight. Female has all-brown tail.

adult male

Lesser Nighthawk

8-9" (20-23 cm). Similar to Common Nighthawk but smaller, with white wing patch (buff in female) nearer tip of wing (visible in flight). Both sexes have buffy cast to underparts.

adult male

Antillean Nighthawk

9 1/2" (24 cm). A jay-sized bird, mottled grayish-black. Long slightly notched tail and long pointed wings with broad white wing bar. Similar to Common Nighthawk, but slightly smaller and paler.

adult male Western

Common Nighthawk

10" (25 cm). A jay-sized bird, mottled brownish-black above and below, perfectly matching the ground. Long notched or square-tipped tail and long pointed wings with broad white wing bar.

adult (gray morph) more common in US

Common Pauraque

12" (30 cm). Larger than the Whip-poor-will. Mottled brown. Brown body; wings and tail show white bands in flight, especially conspicuous in male. Identified mainly by voice.

adult male dark morph

Common Poorwill

7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm). Our smallest nightjar. Mottled gray-brown with no white mark on wings; whitish collar separates black throat from mottled underparts.

adult male

Mexican Whip-poor-will

10" (25 cm). Robin-sized. A leaf-brown, strictly nocturnal bird with black throat. Male has broad white tips on outer tail feathers, visible in flight. Female has all-brown tail.

Vireo

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