Bird GuideNightjarsMexican Whip-poor-will
Mexican Whip-poor-will
Antrostomus arizonae

At a Glance

In mountain forests of the southwest, this shy nightbird is fairly common in summer. Until recently, it was considered to belong to the same species as the Eastern Whip-poor-will; its voice has a similar pattern, but a rougher and lower tone quality.
Upland Ground Birds
Low Concern
Arroyos and Canyons, Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Present in the U.S. only in summer, but probably a permanent resident farther south in Mexico.


10" (25 cm). Camouflaged in mottled brown in gray. In flight, wingtips are broadly rounded, unlike the pointed wings of nighthawks. Longer tail than Common Poorwill. Separated from Eastern Whip-poor-will by range. Compare to Buff-collared Nightjar.
About the size of a Robin
Wing Shape
Long, Rounded
Tail Shape
Long, Rounded, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A loud, rhythmic whip-poor-will, repeated over and over, at night.
Call Pattern
Falling, Undulating
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Whistle


Pine-oak woods in mountains. Breeds in woodland in mountains and canyons, mostly in the pine-oak zone at middle elevations, sometimes higher.



2. Whitish, either unmarked or very lightly marked with brown. Incubation is by both parents (usually more by female), 19-21 days.


Cared for by both parents. Adults feed young by regurgitating insects. Age of young at first flight about 20 days.

Feeding Behavior

Forages at night, especially at dusk and dawn and on moonlit nights. Forages by flying out from a perch in a tree, or in low, continuous flight along the edges of woods and clearings; sometimes by fluttering up from the ground. Captures insects in its wide, gaping mouth and swallows them whole.


Insects. Feeds on night-flying insects, especially moths, also beetles, mosquitoes, and many others.


Male sings at night to defend territory and to attract a mate. Courtship behavior not well known; male approaches female on ground with much head-bobbing, bowing, and sidling about. Nest site is on ground, in woods but often near the edge of a clearing, on open soil covered with dead leaves or pine needles. No nest built, eggs laid on flat ground.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Still fairly common in its limited U.S. range.