Birda Logo

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Antrostomus vociferus

The Eastern Whip-poor-will, scientifically known as Antrostomus vociferus, is a medium-sized bird of the nightjar family, Caprimulgidae. This elusive creature, measuring 22–27 cm in length with a wingspan of 45–50 cm, is more often heard than seen due to its excellent camouflage. Its plumage is a complex pattern of grey, black, and brown, allowing it to blend seamlessly into its surroundings.

Identification Tips

Adult Eastern Whip-poor-wills possess mottled upperparts with a mix of grey, black, and brown, while the lower parts are primarily grey and black. The species has a notably short bill and a distinct black throat. Males can be distinguished by a white patch below the throat and white tips on the outer tail feathers, whereas these features appear light brown in females.


These birds favor deciduous or mixed woods for breeding, selecting shaded locations among dead leaves to nest on the ground.


The Eastern Whip-poor-will breeds across central and southeastern Canada and the eastern United States. When winter arrives, they migrate to warmer climates in the southeastern United States, eastern Mexico, and Central America.


Whip-poor-wills are nocturnal foragers, adept at catching insects mid-flight under the cover of darkness. During the day, they rest, often remaining motionless and undetectable. They are known to nest on the ground, typically laying two eggs, and exhibit a strong tendency to stay on the nest unless disturbed at close quarters.

Song & Calls

The bird's common name is derived from its continuous and haunting "whip-poor-will" vocalization, which is a distinctive aspect of the soundscape within its range.


Eastern Whip-poor-wills lay their eggs on the ground, preferring the shelter of dead leaves in shaded locales. The clutch usually consists of two eggs.

Similar Species

The Eastern Whip-poor-will is often confused with the related chuck-will's-widow, which has a similar but lower-pitched and slower call.

Diet and Feeding

These birds are insectivorous, feeding on flying insects which they catch in flight during their nocturnal hunts.

Conservation Status

The Eastern Whip-poor-will is classified as Near Threatened. Populations have declined by over 60% between 1970 and 2014, with habitat loss, predation, and declines in insect populations due to pesticides and intensified agriculture being potential factors in their decline. Conservation initiatives are considered crucial for the reversal of this trend.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Eastern Whip-poor-will Fun Facts

Did you know?
Eastern Whip-poor-wills corresponds the hatching of their young with the full moon, as the adults can then hunt for the entire night.

Eastern Whip-poor-wills on Birda


More Nightjars

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


Antrostomus carolinensis
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Such a great app!
I didn’t think I could enjoy birding more but this app makes it so much better. Some great features and a really great way to share your sightings with your friends or fellow birders nearby or around the world! ❀️
Talli A
My favourite app
As a young birdwatcher who was always keen to be apart of a community but never seemed to find one, my problem was solved downloading this!!! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited to see birds as me 😁
Jake W
Great app
I use this app all the time as it’s quick and easy to log individual sightings or whole birding sessions. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and the forum is full of really friendly people. The challenges are a great way to get involved and learn more about birds. Cannot recommend it enough!
Jane N
A great app
Enjoying it immensely and finding it useful too. Recording the different birds and counting them is showing me how the present climate is affecting them all. I've trebled the numbers by planting native hedging. A great app.
Erna M
I really like Birda
I really like Birda. I also use other birding apps and have Birda with E-bird going at the same time.
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter πŸ˜„
Love Birda
I love this app. It really encourages you to log your sightings and the community is friendly and helpful.
Carl B
Helped me to identify more birds
Love this app and has helped me to identify more birds. The challenges and badges are great for keeping the motivation going to get out and keep birding.
A Friendly Place
I love using the bird app, I have a pretty good knowledge of birds. But I do have some gaps in it, so it’s nice to have a safe space to check on a sighting to confirm the species. It’s really enjoyable and I love the badges you can collect. It’s like a real life PokΓ©mon go.
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
Β© 2024 All rights reserved