Caprimulgus nuttallii Audubon, 1844, eastern side of the upper Missouri River. Five subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Poorwill; French: Engoulevent de Nuttall; German: Winternachtschwalbe; Spanish: Chotacabras Pachacua.
6.7–8.7 in (17–22 cm); 1.1–2.0 oz (32–58 g). Grayish brown, grayish white, blackish brown, and buff cryptic coloration. Sexes marginally dimorphic.
Breeds in western North America from southern Canada to northern Mexico, leaving northern part of range for winter.
Open woodland, scrub, prairies, canyons.
Roosts on bare ground during day, becoming active from around dusk until before dawn. May become torpid and hibernate in rock crevice for months during winter. Song sounds like “poor-will-ip.”
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Catches insect prey mainly on short sallying flights from low perch or ground.
Unlined nest on ground with clutch of two unmarked, white eggs. Incubation period 20–21 days; both sexes incubate. Small young have vinaceous-buff down with dark markings. Young make first flight at 20–23 days old.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Living birds poorly known even to local people. Species has become famous among ornithologists as best example of a bird that hibernates.
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