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Bird Details

Upland Ground Upland Ground

Common Poorwill

Phalaenoptilus nuttallii

Common Poorwill
copyright Herbert Clarke
Length: 8 in. (20 cm)
Nocturnal and shy, this bird is much more often heard than seen. It can be found regularly sitting in the middle of a lonely gravel road where it will fly up in the headlights of a vehicle like a huge moth. Apparently it spends much of the winter in northern parts of its range in a state of torpor or hibernation concealed in rock piles. It catches insects at night in its gaping mouth by flying low over the desert floor. Its nest is a shallow depression on the ground, usually near a steep hill. The four-digit banding code is COPO.
common_poorwill.jpg

Male
copyright Herbert Clarke

Chaparral
Chaparral

Desert
Desert

Shrubs
Shrubs

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Male
Buzzing (sound type)
Bird Call
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Male
Buzzing (sound type)
Bird Call
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CR_COPO_1_042103_S.jpg
Male
Buzzing (sound type)
Bird Call

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CR_COPO_2_042303_S.jpg
Male
Buzzing (sound type)
Bird Call

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Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.