Bird of the Week: Eastern Whip-poor-will

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Whip-poor-wills are part of a family of birds known as nightjars or goatsuckers (after the myth that they subsisted on milk from goats), who nest on the ground. They are superbly camouflaged, and you could walk within a few feet of one without noticing it. Whip-poor-wills hunt for insects at dawn and dusk, and their huge mouths let them eat prey up to two inches long. During the full moon, they can hunt all night, a fact which influences their nesting behavior. Whip-poor-wills time their egg-laying so that the chicks hatch ten days before the full moon; this means that they can spend more time foraging for the chicks in the bright nights.

Whip-poor-wills are visitors to Central Texas. Look and listen for them when they pass through during spring migration!

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. Photo by Green Raven Photography.

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