Caprimulgus carolinensis Photo Lisa Huey ©
Often heard but rarely seen, the chuck-will’s-widow is the largest of the nightjars. In Florida, this bird's incessant, repeated ‘chuck-will’s- widow’ call marks the onset of hot summer nights, as breeding males call to establish their territory and attract females.
Despite being so vocal, “Chucks” are difficult to see. You sometimes catch a glimpse of one sitting in the middle of a country road; its eyes reflected red in car headlights, or fluttering like a moth along the edge of the trees. They feed at night, mainly on the wing, scooping up beetles and flying insects in their wide beaks.
Chuck-will’s-widows migrate south in winter; in September most of these birds leave Florida for the West Indies and Central America, though some remain in southernmost Florida year round.
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