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Common poorwill        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Named for its whistled call, the night-flying common poorwill lives in chaparral and scrublands in western North America.   It relies on intricate camouflage for protection as it rests on the ground, and it is the only bird known to hibernate (sometimes for weeks at a time).   Like all caprimulgids (nightjars), the poorwill has a small beak but a huge mouth rimmed with bristles that help it scoop in flying insects.   They are sometimes seen sitting on the ground in open areas, occasionally fluttering up into the air to catch a passing moth.   The bird in the photo at bottom left was hunting insects from a gravel road in Death Valley National Park, California.   It was extremely confiding and allowed very close approach.   The others were in Joshua Tree National Park and in western Riverside County, CA.

  • bottom left:   Nikon F3, 90mm macro lens + 2X converter, Kodachrome 64 with electronic flash (1979)
  • others:   Canon 1D4, 800 mm IS lens, some with 1.4X extender, electronic flash (2010, 2011, 2013)