The Bird Book/Goatsuckers, etc

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The Bird Book by Chester A. Reed
Goatsuckers, etc: Family Caprimulgidse



Goatsuckers are long winged birds, with small bills, but with an extraordinarily large mouth, the opening of which extends beneath and beyond the eyes. They are chiefly dusk or night fliers, their food consisting of insects which they catch on the wing. Their plumage is mottled black, brownish and white, resembling the ground upon which they lay their eggs.




Antrostomus carolinensis. Range. South Atlantic and Gulf States, breeding north to Virginia and Indiana, and west to Arkansas and eastern Texas.

These birds are abundant summer residents in the southern portions of their range, but as

Chuck -will's- widow

Grayish white

they are silent and hiding in the woods during the day time, they are not as popularly known as are most birds. They rarely fly during the day time unless disturbed from their roosting place which is on the ground under underbrush or in hollow logs. Their notes, which are a rapid and repeatedly uttered whistling repetition of their name, are heard until late in the night. They nest during April, May or June, laying two eggs on the ground amid the leaves in woods or scrubby underbrush. The eggs are grayish to creamy white in color, handsomely marked with shades of lilac, gray and brownish; size 1.40 x 1.00.

417. WHIP-POOR-WILL. Antrostomus vociferus vociferus.

Range. North America east of the Plains ; north to the southern parts of the British possessions; winters along the Gulf coast and southward.

This species is well known, by sound, in nearly all parts of its range, but comparatively few ever observed the bird, and probably the greater number mistake the Nighthawk for this species. The two species can readily be distinguished at a distance by the absence of any pronounced white marking in

ths wings, and by the white tips to the outer tail feathers in the present species, while the Night Hawk has a prominent white band across the tail, but the top is black, and the tail slightly forked. The Whip-poor-will, rarely leaves its place of concealment before dark, and is never, seen flying about cities, as are the Nighthawks. In their pursuit of insects, they glide like a shadow over fields and woods, their soft plumage giving forth no sound as their wings cleave the air. Until late at night, their whistling cry "whippoor-will," repeated at

intervals, rings out in all wooded hilly districts. Their two eggs are deposited on the ground among dead leaves, generally in dense woods. They are grayish white or cream color marbled with pale brown and gray, with faint er markings of lilac. Size 1.50 x .85. 263

Creamy white



41 7a. STEPHEN'S WHIP-POOR-WILL. Antrostomus vociferus macromystax.

Range. Arizona and New Mexico, south through the tableland of Mexico.

This sub-species is slightly larger and has longer mouth bristles than the eastern bird. Their nesting habits are the same and the eggs differ only in averaging lighter in color, with fainter markings, some specimens being almost immaculate.

418. POOR-WILL. Phalcenoptilus nuttalli nuttalli.

Range. United States west of the Mississippi, breeding from Kansas and northern California northward to Montana and British Columbia.

This handsome species ^,- ^

is the smallest of the family, being under 8 inches

in length. Its plumage is mottled black, white and frosty gray, harmoniously blended together. They can easily be distinguished from all other Goatsuckers by their size and silvery appearance. They nest on the ground, either placing their two eggs upon a bed of leaves or upon a flat rock. White The breeding season is from the latter part of May through July. The eggs are pure white and glossy; size 1.00 x .75.


Merrill's Paraque

418a. FROSTED POOR-WILL. Phalcenoptilus nuttalli nitidus.

Range. Texas and Arizona, north to western Kansas. This variety is like the last but paler, both above and below, tinguishable from those of others of the genus.

Eggs indis

41Sb. DUSKY POOR- WILL. Phalcenoptilus nuttalli calif ornicus.

Range. A darker race found on the coast of California, having the same nesting habits as the others.

The egg figured is of this species. Data. Los Angeles, Cal., June 24, 1900. 2 eggs on the ground at the foot of an oak tree on the side of a hill. Collector, F. M. Palmer.

. .



419- MERRILL'S PARATJQUE. Nyctidromus albicollis merrilli.

Range. Mexico, north to the Lower Rio Grande in southern Texas.

This species is the same length as the Chuck-will's-widow, but is not as stoutly built, and has a slightly longer tail. It can be distinguished from any other of the family by its tail, the outer feather on each side being black (or brownish barred with black in the female), and the next two having white ends for nearly half their length. Their eggs are laid on the ground in open localities, and generally under the protection of an overhanging bush. They are two in number and differ greatly from those of any other American member of this family, being a buff or rich salmon buff in color, spotted and splashed with gray, lavender, and reddish brown; size 1.25 x .90. Data. Brownsville, Texas, April 16, 1900. Eggs laid on the ground in a dense thicket. Collector, Frank B. Armstrong.

Salmon buff

Geo. S. Fiske




420. NIGHTHAWK. Chordeiles virginianus virginianus.

Range. North America, east of the Plains and from Labrador to the Gulf of Mexico; winters through Mexico to northern South America.

The Nighthawk or some of its sub-species is found in nearly all parts of North America, its habits being the same in all localities. It is

Grayish white

of the same size as the Whippoor-will, from which species it can readily be distinguished by its lack of mouth bristles, forked tail with a white band near the end, and the white band across the primaries, the latter mark showing very plainly during flight. Besides in the country, they are

very common in cities, where they will be seen any summer day towards dusk flying, skimming, sailing, and swooping over the tops of the buildings, upon the gravel roofs on which they often lay their eggs. They nest generally on rocky hillsides or in open woods, laying their two eggs upon the top of a flat rock. The eggs are a grayish white color, marbled, blotched and spotted with darker shades of gray. Size 1.20 x .85.

420a. WESTERN NIGHTHAWK. Chordeiles virginianus henryi.

Range. United States west of the Plains.

A similar bird to the preceding, but with plumage somewhat more rusty. It frequents the more open portions of the country in its range, its habits and nesting habits being the same as others of the former species; the eggs average a trifle lighter in color.

Grayish white

420b. FLORIDA NIGHTHAWK. Chordeiles virginianus chapmani.

Range. A smaller and paler form found in Florida and along the Gulf coast. No difference can be observed in the nesting habits of this as compared with the northern form and the eggs are indistinguishable.

J. E. Seebold



420 421


Cordeiles virginianus sennetti. Range. A very pale species with little or no tawny; found in the Great Plains from Texas north to the Saskatchewan; winters south of the United States.


Chordeiles acutipennu texensis.

Range. Mexico and Central America, breed ing north to southern Utah and California.

The pattern of the marking of this species is finer and more mottled with rusty than

the Nighthawk. Its ^m$t%<*t ,Y habits do not differ to any extent from those of the preceding species; they lay their two Gravish whil mottled gray eggs upon the bare ground, often on the dry sand and in arid regions where they are exposed, with no protection, to the scorching rays of the sun. The eggs vary endlessly in extent of markings,some being very pale and others very dark gray, mottled with various shades

of gray, brown and lilac. Size 1.10 x .75.