|Conservation status||Thought to be declining in parts of its range, possibly because of loss of habitat.|
|Habitat||Oak and pine woodlands. Breeds in shady southern woodlands of various types, including open pine forest, oak woodlands, edges of swamps. Winter habitats include subtropical woods and lowland rain forest in the tropics.|
Forages at night, perhaps most actively at dusk and dawn and on moonlit nights. Forages by flying out from a perch high in a tree or from the ground to catch flying insects; also forages in continuous flight along the edges of woods. Captures food in its wide, gaping mouth; insects and small birds are swallowed whole.
2. Creamy white, usually blotches with brown and gray. Incubation is probably by female only, about 3 weeks. If the nest is disturbed, the adult may move the eggs some distance away. Young: Apparently cared for by female alone. Female broods young and shelters them during the day; feeds them by regurgitating insects. Age of young at first flight 17 days or more.
Apparently cared for by female alone. Female broods young and shelters them during the day; feeds them by regurgitating insects. Age of young at first flight 17 days or more.
Mostly large insects. Feeds on large night-flying insects, especially beetles and moths, also many others. Also occasionally takes small birds, including warblers, sparrows, and hummingbirds.
In courtship during daytime, male struts or sidles up to female with his body plumage puffed up, wings drooping, and tail spread; moves with jerky actions, and calls. Nest site is on ground, in rather open area within shady understory of forest. Same site may be used more than one year. No nest built, eggs laid on flat ground on leaves or pine needles.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Some spend the winter in Florida but most migrate well south, wintering in the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA mellow chuck-will's-widow, repeated over and over, the chuck deep and low, the rest of the call whistled.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Chuck-will's-widow
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Chuck-will's-widow
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.