Bird of the Week: Chuck-will’s-widow

Most birders who live in the more rural areas of central and eastern Texas are quite familiar with the incessant calling of the Chuck-will’s-widow. These birds, which are the largest of the North American nightjars, are most active at dusk and dawn–where they are more often heard than seen. At night, these birds hunt by capturing flying insects with wide, gaping mouths. Their prey consists mostly of moths, flying beetles, and dragonflies, but they have been observed taking smaller birds and bats on occasion. The day usually finds these birds remaining motionless on the ground, a rock, or a branch, where their mottled brown plumage camouflages them perfectly. They inhabit open and relatively dry woodlands and forest edges, and during breeding season their eggs are laid in shallow depressions among the leaves on the ground. Their characteristic vocalizations are a summertime treat– listen to one here!
Compiled by Marc Frazier. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.
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