Common Poorwill

Phalaenoptilus nuttallii




Goatsuckers (Caprimulgidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to light pink, sometimes spotted with violet

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

20 - 21

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground., Atop small pile of leaves.

Nest Material:

No nest materials.





Common Poorwill: Small, stocky nightjar with pale brown mottled body and white collar separating black throat from narrowly barred underparts. Wings are rounded and tail is short and fan-shaped with outer tail feathers tipped white. Sexes are similar.

Range and Habitat

Common Poorwill: Breeds primarily in the western half of the U.S. south into central Mexico, and winters in the southern portion of breeding range, from the southwestern U.S. into central Mexico. Found in shrub steppe, rocky canyons, open woodlands, and broken forests; preferred nesting habitats include canyons, slopes, cliffs, mesas and stony hills, and mountains.

Breeding and Nesting

Common Poorwill: Two white to light pink eggs, sometimes spotted with violet, are laid in a depression on the bare ground, gravel, or flat rock, sometimes on dead leaves or pine needles, commonly shaded by a small bush, clump of grass, or overhanging rock. Incubation ranges from 20 to 21 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Common Poorwill: Feeds on moths, beetles, grasshoppers, locusts, and other insects; catches insects on the ground, or vaults upward to capture them in the air.


Common Poorwill: Call is a distinctive, melancholy "poor-will." Utters a low "wurt, wurt" in flight.

Similar Species

Common Poorwill: Whip-poor-will has longer tail with large white corners in males, buff tips in females, and different song.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Similar to the upper part of the human neck, located at the back of the crown.
Outer tail feathersX
The tail feathers farthest from the center.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X