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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Chuck-will's-widow -- Caprimulgus carolinensis

RANGE: Breeds from eastern Kansas, southern lowa, and central Illinois to New Jersey and southern New York, south to south-central and southeastern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida. Winters from southeastern Texas, Louisiana, and northern Florida to South America.

STATUS: Locally common.

HABITAT: Prefers mixed oak and pine forests, but also inhabits evergreen oak groves, forest edges, and woodlands along river courses. During migration and in winter, frequents open woodland and scrub and palmetto thickets.

NEST: Lays eggs on the ground on dead leaves, usually at the edges of forests, near roads or other clearings, usually with little or no undergrowth around the eggs.

FOOD: Forages at night by flying along edges of woods and fields, catching night-flying moths, beetles, and other insects. Rarely captures small birds such as hummingbirds, warblers, and sparrows and swallows them whole.

REFERENCES: Bent 1940a, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Sykes in Farrand 1983b, Terres 1980.

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