(Antrostomus carolinensis)

Chuck Wills Widow
Chuck Wills Widow

This is a nocturnal bird. You may hear its calls primarily dusk or dawn although when near a full moon it will make calls during the night. It is the largest species of the nightjar family and has a large flat head. It has a short bill and a long tail. Mottled gray-brown; brown throat; small white or buffy neck band; outer tail feathers of males have large white patches with the tips being a buff-brown; females lack white on the outer tail feathers. It is well camouflaged and remains very still while roosting on lower limbs during the day thus making it hard to find. The Chuck-will’s-widow has a distinctive four-syllable song sounding like its common name It is commonly confused with the Whip-poor-will,

They feed primarily on evening-flying insects, especially moths and beetles. They hunt insects while flying, scooping their prey from the air with their huge mouth. They also have been known to eat small birds, bats, and frogs.

Their habitat preference is open deciduous, coniferous, and mixed woodlands, often near edge. There is no nest structure. Eggs are laid on the ground or on dead leaves, in wooded areas with an open understory. Click on image for more info.

Fun Facts

The common name, Chuck-will’s-widow, derives from its continuous, repetitive song that is often heard at night.

The Chuck-will’s-widow belongs to the family of Goatsuckers. This name is based on an ancient belief that these birds fed on goats’ milk at night.