Whippoorwill, the common name of antrostomus vociferus (Bonap.), a North American bird of the goatsucker family, derived from the fancied resemblance of its notes; for family and generic characters, see Goatsucker. It is 10 in. long and 19 in. in alar extent; the plumage is very difficult to describe, much resembling that of the European goatsucker. The bristles at the base of the bill are very stiff, more than an inch long, but without lateral filaments; wings short and rounded, second quill the longest, and tail rounded; it resembles also the chuckwill's widow (A.Carolinensis, Gould), but is much smaller; the female is without the white on the tail. It is distributed over the eastern United States, being replaced on the upper Missouri and to the west by A. Nuttalli(Cassin), smaller and lighter colored; the gape in both is very large. It is seldom seen during the day, unless startled from its repose on or near the ground; the flight is low, swift, zigzag, noiseless, and protracted, as it seeks the insects on which it feeds; according to Audubon, it always sits with its body parallel to, and never across, the branch or fence which supports it. It comes from the south in spring, returning in autumn.
The notes are clear and loud for several hours after sunset, and then unheard till daybreak, when it again becomes vocal until the sun has fairly risen; the first and third syllables are given with great emphasis. The eggs are laid about the middle of May on the bare ground or on dry leaves in the thickets which they frequent; they are two, much rounded, greenish white, with spots and blotches of bluish gray and light brown; both birds incubate, and the young are hatched in 14 days.
Whippoorwill (Antrostomus Nuttalli).