The Whip-poor-will or whippoorwill (Caprimulgus vociferus), is a member of the nightjar bird family. It is found in North and Central America. The Whip-poor-will’s breeding habitat is deciduous or mixed woods across southeastern Canada, eastern and southwestern United States, and Central America. Northern birds migrate to the southeastern United States and south to Central America. Central American races are largely resident. These birds forage at night, catching insects in flight. They normally sleep during the day. This bird does not normally fly up from the nest unless almost stepped upon.
It is becoming a locally rare bird as recorded estimates show a 97% decline in population since 1983 in New York State. Several reasons for the decline are proposed, like habitat destruction, predation by feral cats and dogs, and poisoning by insecticides, but the actual causes remain elusive. Still, the species as a whole is not considered globally threatened due to its huge range.
The whippoorwill is a medium sized bird, 8.5 to 10.5 inches long, and has mottled plumage. The upperparts are gray, black and brown; the lower parts are grey and black. They have a very short bill and a black throat. Males have a white patch below the throat and white tips on the outer tail feathers. In the female, these parts are light brown.
They are nocturnal animals and nest on the ground, in shaded locations, among dead leaves, and usually lay two eggs at a time.