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Mexican Whip-poor-will

ID Info
  • Mexican Whip-poor-will
  • Mexican Whip-poor-will
  • Mexican Whip-poor-will
Silhouette NightjarsNightjars
Mexican Whip-poor-willAntrostomus arizonae
  • ORDER: Caprimulgiformes
  • FAMILY: Caprimulgidae

Basic Description

Exquisitely camouflaged in brown, black, gray, buff, and cinnamon, Mexican Whip-poor-wills are virtually invisible inhabitants of wooded canyons and pine-oak forests. They hide among foliage or leaf litter during the day, rousing at dusk to catch flying insects under the moonlight. During breeding season, males sing an incessant, burry "whip-poor-will" song through the night. Whip-poor-wills are celebrated in songs and lore, but the Mexican Whip-poor-will was only recognized as a full species in 2010, and remains poorly known due to its nocturnal habits and remote habitat.

More ID Info
image of range map for Mexican Whip-poor-will
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Nightjars are notoriously difficult to see. The best way to experience Mexican Whip-poor-wills is to get out at night to hear their namesake song. Listen around sunset or just before dawn, when they sing most frequently. Exploring wooded canyons is likely to pay off for hearing a whip-poor-will, and if you drive slowly along a quiet canyon road at dusk, you just might hit the jackpot and see one sitting on the road! You'll likely see their eyeshine first—then take a quick look with binoculars before turning off the lights or moving along.

Other Names

  • Chotacabras Cuerporruín Mexicano (Spanish)
  • Engoulevent d'Arizona (French)
  • Cool Facts