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Goatsuckers And Nighthawks

The goatsuckers, nightjars, and nighthawks are 70 species that make up the family Caprimulgidae. Most species in this family occur in Africa and Asia, but eight species breed in North America. These birds have extremely long, pointed wings, and are excellent fliers that feed aerially on flying insects.

The whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferous) is a familiar species to forests in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. Chuck-will's-widow (C. carolinensis) breeds in pine forests of the southeastern United States. The common poor-will (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) occurs in the western United States. The common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is a familiar species over most of the United States and southern Canada, and sometimes nests on flat, graveled roofs in cities. The lesser nighthawk (C. acutipennis) is a smaller species of the southwestern United States. Like most species of caprimulgids, the North American species are declining because of habitat loss, and perhaps because of the effects of exposure to pesticides.



Bird Families of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Brooke, M., and T. Birkhead. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Ornithology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Bill Freedman

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Calcium Sulfate to Categorical imperativeCaprimulgids - The Oilbird, Frogmouths, Potoos, Owlet Frogmouths, Goatsuckers And Nighthawks