female bird, photo by Phil Swanson

Caprimulgus vociferus
L 9 3/4″ (25 cm).

Song or calls:
Rolling “prrip-poor-rrill!.” First and last syllables are emphasized.

Description: Mottled gray-brown overall; no white on wings; long rounded tail; white (buffy in females) collar contrasts with dark throat and paler underparts. Males show white outer tail feathers; female’s tail lacks white, and has pale tips on dark outer feathers.

Bird Map

Habitat: Open hardwood or mixed woodlands, especially younger stands in drier habitats. Seems to prefer woodlands with scattered clearings.

Where in Nebraska: Locally common spring and fall migrant and summer resident along the forested Missouri River valley and tributaries.

Fun Facts: The Whip-poor-will is a nocturnal bird that lays its eggs in sync with the moon phases so the eggs hatch 10 days before the full moon, giving the parents enough light to hunt for insects for the nestlings.

Additional Information: Like other nightjars, it was believed that they sucked milk from goats’ udders. Family name is Latin for “goatmilker”.

female Whip-poor-will - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)