Common Poorwill

Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
L 7 3/4″ (20 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Melancholy ‘poor-will.’ Mostly heard on warm nights during the breeding season.

Description: Mottled gray-brown overall; no white wing markings; short rounded tail; whitish collar separates black throat from mottled underparts. Dark outer tail feathers are more conspicuously tipped with white in males.

common poorwill
Habitat: Most common in rocky habitats with scrubby cover or dry woodlands, but will extend locally into grasslands. The Sandhills are apparently avoided by breeding birds.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident in western parts of the state besides the Sandhills. Scattered sightings of migrants in eastern Nebraska.

Field Notes: Known to hibernate in cold weather.

Fun Facts: Common Poorwills will enter a state called “torpor” where they lower their metabolic rate and drop their temperature, sometimes up to several weeks. They often do this when the outside temperature drops to low and the insects they eat will not be out.