Common Poorwill

Phalaenoptilus nuttallii Order: Caprimulgiformes Family: Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
Phalaenoptilus nuttallii Order: Caprimulgiformes Family: Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
Common Poorwill

This splendid bird apparently heard that old parental saw that children should be seen and not heard, and decided to rebel by doing the exact opposite. Found year-round in desert areas of Mexico and the American Southwest, it extends its range during the breeding season into arid scrub and sagebrush habitats as far north as southern Canada, and as far east as central and even eastern Kansas, though its distribution can be very localized.

The Common Poorwill is the first bird that scientists ever recognized could hibernate. In 1948, a scientist named Edmund Jaeger wrote some papers about discovering one hibernating in the Chuckwalla mountains through a winter. But native peoples were in the know about this bird’s habits long, long before scientists made their “discoveries.” The Hopi Indians refer to the poorwill as Hölchoko, “the sleeping one,” and the Pima Indians also knew about the bird’s sleeping habits.

Laura's Published Works

More Photos