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Species Guide
A photo of a Chuck-will's-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis)


Antrostomus carolinensis

The chuck-will's-widow, Antrostomus carolinensis, is a nocturnal bird belonging to the nightjar family, Caprimulgidae. It is the largest of its kind in North America, with a distinctive short bill and elongated tail. The plumage is a mottled brown with a buff throat, and males are characterized by white patches on their outer tail feathers. This bird's size ranges from 28 to 33 cm in length, with a wingspan of 58 to 66 cm, and a body mass between 66 to 188 grams.

Identification Tips

When identifying the chuck-will's-widow, look for its reddish-brown feathers lined with black, and the brown and white patterning on its head and chest. The wing chord measures between 20.1 to 22.5 cm, the tail from 13 to 15.1 cm, the bill from 1.1 to 1.4 cm, and the tarsus from 1.5 to 1.9 cm.


This species is typically found in the southeastern United States, favoring environments such as swamps, rocky uplands, and pine woods.


The chuck-will's-widow breeds in the southeastern United States, with disjunct populations in Long Island, New York, Ontario, Canada, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It migrates seasonally to the West Indies, Central America, and northwestern South America.


The chuck-will's-widow is known for its nocturnal habits, feeding primarily at night. It is also recognized for its mimicking behavior, where it can imitate a Cottonmouth snake.

Song & Calls

The bird's song is a distinctive series of calls with a vibrating middle note flanked by two shorter notes. It is slower, lower-pitched, and less piercing than the song of the closely related whip-poor-will.


Breeding involves laying eggs on the ground amidst patches of dead leaves. The eggs are pink with spots of brown and lavender, and the female solely incubates them.

Diet and Feeding

The chuck-will's-widow's diet consists mainly of nocturnal insects such as moths, beetles, and winged ants. It is also known to consume small birds and bats, which it swallows whole.

Conservation status

The IUCN lists the chuck-will's-widow as Near Threatened, while NatureServe considers it Secure. Conservation efforts are important to monitor and maintain its population levels.

Chuck-will's-widow Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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