Goatsuckers (also known as Nightjars) (Caprimulgidae)

The family name goatsucker comes from folk tales that these wide-mouthed birds suck milk from goats at night (in Latin caper means goat and mulgeo means to milk or suck). The more dignified family name is Nightjar.

Common Nighthawk

Chordeiles minor

Common Nighthawks make a nasal peent call as they forage or display while flying at dusk or near dawn. They also call from the ground. (Franklin County, New York.)
Habitat: Nests in logged or open forests, clearings, fields, and on flat gravel rooftops.


Caprimulgus carolinensis

Chuck-will's-widow is named for its call which it makes repeatedly. The rate of calling can vary about 2-fold. The initial note (the "chuck") can be hard to hear when the bird is far away (listen to the bird in the background in the recording). The length of a calling bout varies widely and can be quite long on moonlit nights. This species is active mainly at night when it forages for insects that it catches on the wing. (Chatham County, Georgia)
Habitat: Coniferous, deciduous and mixed forests near fields or other openings for foraging.

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Caprimulgus vociferus

Whip-poor-wills are most active at night. During the breeding season a whip-poor-will male calls its name over and over and over, especially on bright moonlit nights. A calling bout can last for a few seconds (as here) or for many minutes. Although the 'whip-poor-will' phrases are easily heard from a distance, the opening cluck can only be heard when the bird is nearby. Birds call from the ground or from exposed perches. The call apparently is used to attract a mate and defend territory. (Albany County, New York.)
Habitat: Open dry woodlands with little understory and nearby open foraging areas.