Antrostomus carolinensis - (Gmelin, 1789)
Chuck-will's-widow
Other English Common Names: chuck-will's-widow
Synonym(s): Caprimulgus carolinensis Gmelin, 1789
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Caprimulgus carolinensis Gmelin, 1789 (TSN 177960)
French Common Names: Engoulevent de Caroline
Spanish Common Names: Tapacamino de Carolina
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102662
Element Code: ABNTA07010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Caprimulgiformes Caprimulgidae Antrostomus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Caprimulgus carolinensis
Taxonomic Comments: Formerly merged with Caprimulgus, but now treated as a separate genus on the basis of genetic data (Han et al. 2010) (AOU 2012). Constitutes a superspecies with C. rufus (AOU 1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 26Feb2014
Global Status Last Changed: 02Dec1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (Birdlife International, 2014).
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,NNRN (05Jan1997)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S5B), Arkansas (S4B), Delaware (S3B), Florida (S5B), Georgia (S5), Illinois (S4), Indiana (S3B), Iowa (S3B), Kansas (S4B), Kentucky (S4S5B), Louisiana (S4B), Maryland (S4B), Massachusetts (S1N), Mississippi (S4B), Missouri (SNRB), Nebraska (S3), New Jersey (S4B), New York (S1B), North Carolina (S5B), Ohio (S2), Oklahoma (S5B), South Carolina (S4B), South Dakota (S1B), Tennessee (S3S4), Texas (S3S4B), Virginia (S4), West Virginia (S1B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: eastern Kansas east to central Indiana and Long Island (and probably Martha's Vineyard), south to eastern Oklahoma, southern Texas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: southeastern Texas, southern Louisiana, and coastal Alabama south through Middle America to Colombia; and from central Florida and the Bahamas south through the Greater Antilles to the northern Lesser Antilles (Saba, St. Martin, and Barbuda) (AOU 1998). Distribution size (breeding/resident) = 1,800,000 km2 (Birdlife International, 2014).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Estimate based on Birdlife International (2014).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations), with an estimated global population of 6 million individuals (Partners in Flight, 2013).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: The global popoulation size estimate by Partners in Flight (2013) is 6 million. This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion. (Birdlife International, 2014)

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: With an estimated global population of 6 million, there should be at least 125 good element occurrences.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats include breeding and wintering habitat loss and degradation. PESTICIDES: Gypsy Moth infestations in many parts of the northeastern U.S. have prompted the use of pesticides (Bt and Dimilin) on large portions of oak forest. Bt has been reported to be toxic to more than 40 species of lepidopterans, resulting in possible restricted foraging opportunities for nightjars, especially as the gypsy moth advances into the southeastern states. DEVELOPMENT: Typically fly low to the ground and forage in and along roads. When rural roads are paved this increases driving speeds, thus increasing the potential for auto strikes (T. O'Connell, pers. comm.). GRAZING: Grazing could have a detrimental effect on this and other ground nesting species, by trampling and possible reduction of insect prey densities, but no data is currently available to document this (C. Rustay, pers. comm.).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data show an annual decline of 1.79 percent (P less than 0.05) in the eastern United States in the interval 1966-1991 (Peterjohn et al. 1995). Also, declines detected in Gulf Coastal Plain, Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, but none serious. Confirmed nesting records from south-central Oklahoma (Baumgartner and Baumgartner 1992) and Kansas (Thompson and Ely 1989) indicate range is expanding west.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). (Birdlife International, 2014).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable to not intrinsically vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Potentially vulnerable due to its insectivorous diet and habit of foraging over fields and pastures (Straight and Cooper, 2012).

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Occurs in deciduous, pine, oak-hickory, and mixed forests but with more open habitat than Whip-poor-will (Straight and Cooper, 2012).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Little need. Projected trends suggests increase in Chuck-will'swidow numbers through 2040 (Straight and Cooper, 2012).

Protection Needs: No need at this particular point in time.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: eastern Kansas east to central Indiana and Long Island (and probably Martha's Vineyard), south to eastern Oklahoma, southern Texas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida (AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: southeastern Texas, southern Louisiana, and coastal Alabama south through Middle America to Colombia; and from central Florida and the Bahamas south through the Greater Antilles to the northern Lesser Antilles (Saba, St. Martin, and Barbuda) (AOU 1998). Distribution size (breeding/resident) = 1,800,000 km2 (Birdlife International, 2014).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NE Nemaha (31127), Richardson (31147), Saunders (31155), Seward (31159)
NJ Cumberland (34011)
NY Richmond (36085), Suffolk (36103)
OH Adams (39001), Highland (39071), Hocking (39073), Montgomery (39113), Pike (39131), Scioto (39145)
SD Stanley (46117)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+, Southern Long Island (02030202)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+
05 Hocking (05030204)+, Lower Scioto (05060002)+, Lower Great Miami (05080002)+, Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+
10 Fort Randall Reservoir (10140101)+, Lower Platte-Shell (10200201)+, Salt (10200203)+, Tarkio-Wolf (10240005)+, South Fork Big Nemaha (10240007)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A nocturnal bird (nightjar).
Reproduction Comments: No nest built; eggs are usually laid under dense cover near old roads or forest edges (Oberholser 1974, Imhof 1976, Peterjohn and Rice 1991). Eggs laid March-June in Florida, April-June elsewhere. Clutch size two. Incubation 20 days or more, by both sexes or by female. Young tended by female, can fly at 17 days. The only banded bird ever to be recovered was at least 15 years old (North American Bird Bander, vol. 18).
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Breeding populations in most of U.S. are migratory. Arrives in Costa Rica by October, departs by end of April (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Deciduous forest, pine-oak association, live-oak groves, and edges of clearings (AOU 1983, 1998). Dry or mesic woods and forests with either pine or hardwood, though favors mixed woods and a light to moderate understory (Hamel 1992). Forages over fields and clearings (Hamel 1992).

NON-BREEDING: also in open woodland, scrub, palmetto thickets, and tropical evergreen forest (AOU 1983, 1998), old second growth, tall hedgerows in savannas and croplands, thickets at forest edge or at gaps inside forest (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats insects (beetles, moths, cicadas, other medium-sized to fairly large insects) and sometimes small birds caught in flight at night near ground along edges of woods and fields (Terres 1980, Bent 1940); sallies up from ground or low perch in open (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Length: 31 centimeters
Weight: 120 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Breeding range covers most of eastern U.S. and southern Ontario, Canada. Breeds in a variety of more open, drier, forested habitats, including pines, hardwoods, mixed woods; forages over adjacent fields and clearings. Included in Partners in Flight's Watchlist program as "moderate priority species" (Carter et al. 1998). Most significant declines in Gulf Coastal Plain, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, but no serious declines noted across entire range. Due to nocturnal nature, little is known about nesting behavior and success, habitat use, and other aspects of breeding biology. Threats include breeding and wintering habitat loss and degradation. Pesticide exposure from foraging over pastures and fields may be a threat, although this has not been documented. Habitat use and requirements, status, and nesting success need further research.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Preserves should include a variety of woodland habitats with a light to moderate understory, generally near open country (Hamel 1992). Openings, including forest gaps, pastures and scrub appear to be an important component, but use of habitat has not been studied. In places where range overlaps with Whip-poor-will (CAPRIMULGUS VOCIFERUS), is associated with more open habitats (Brewer et al. 1991). In Kansas and Ohio, found in distinctly drier woodland habitats than that of Whip-poor-will (Fitch 1958, Peterjohn and Rice 1991). In New York, foraging habitat includes bayberry (MYRICA PENSYLVANICA), greenbrier (SMILAX spp.), and poison ivy (TOXICONDENDRON RADICANS) thickets, and beach heather (HUDSONIA TOMENTOSA) openings (Anderle and Carrol 1988). In areas where cedars (JUNIPERUS spp.) or pines (PINUS spp.) are common, birds typically nest near these trees (James and Neal 1986, Palmer-Ball 1996). In Texas, nests in brush/scrub habitat on rocky or sandy slopes (Oberholser 1974).

Partners in Flight's West Gulf Coastal Plain Bird Conservation Plan suggests a minimum of 40,000 hectares to ensure sufficient habitat for the maintenance of source populations. More research on habitat use is needed before an accurate preserve design can be established.

Management Requirements: More studies are needed to determine an accurate management strategy.
Monitoring Requirements: BBS, Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS), and other standardized monitoring programs generally not effective. Focused nightbird surveys should be implemented.
Management Research Needs: All aspects of the biology of this species are in need of more information. Topics particularly in need of research includes habitat use for nesting and foraging, factors limiting populations, survival rates, fecundity, population density, territory size, and how these factors relate to land-use patterns (Straight, in press). Telemetry studies on these topics are likely to be especially informative (e.g., Mills 1986). Diet studies have tended to focus on unusual observations rather than quantification of their normal prey of large arthropods. Declining food abundance due to pesticides, land use changes, or other factors could be a cause for population declines (Straight, in press).
Biological Research Needs: Virtually every aspect of the biology of this species is in need of additional information. Only vocalizations and molt have been covered by at least one major published paper. Topics particularly in need of research include demography (survival rates, fecundity, and population density), territory size, habitat use for nesting and foraging, factors limiting populations, and the manner in which these factors relate to land-use patterns. Telemetry studies on these topics are likely to be especially informative (e.g., Mills 1986). Diet studies, while present in the literature, have tended to focus on unusual observations such as depredation on vertebrates, rather than quantification of normal prey?large arthropods. If those prey, especially large Lepidoptera, are declining in abundance due to pesticides, land-use changes, or other factors, then any of these factors could, in turn, be a cause for population declines (Straight and Cooper 2012).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Nightjars

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: No information on home ranges; separation distance arbitrarily set. Male Common Poorwills apparently set up territories up to 0.5 kilometers across early in the breeding season (Kalcounis et al. 1992). Buff-collared Nightjar territories reported to be 100 to 150 meters long (Bowers and Dunning 1997). Whip-poor-will: density estimates only: 0.5-1.5 pairs per 10 ha (Slack and Root 1980, Webster 1980, Nicholson 1980).
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .15 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: No information on breeding home range. Based conservatively on male Buff-collared Nightjar territories and reported Whip-poor-will densities (see Separation Justification).
Date: 14Nov2001
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Includes species of the genera PHALAENOPTILUS, CAPRIMULGUS, and NYCTIDROMUS.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 26Feb2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jue, Sally S.
Management Information Edition Date: 03Dec1999
Management Information Edition Author: BROWN, B.; REVISIONS BY M. KOENEN AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: The author thanks T. O'Connell, A. Poole, C. Rustay, and C. Straight for providing valuable information for this abstract. Cathie Sandell, Tony Melchoirs, Jane Fitzgerald and Gary Zenitsky provided useful contacts. Also, thanks to Allison V. Level and Diana Niskern for excellent library support. Support for the preparation of this abstract was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative, through challenge grant number 97-270 to The Nature Conservancy, Wings of the Americas Program. Matching funds for this grant were donated by Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 16Feb1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • See SERO listing

  • Sibley, D. A. 2000a. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

  • Slack, R. S., and B. J. Root. 1980. Pitch pine-oak forest. P. 57 IN: W. T. Van Velzen, editor. Forty-third breeding bird census. American Birds 34:41-106.

  • Stevenson, H.M., and B.H. Anderson. 1994. The Birdlife of Florida. University Press of Florida, 891 pp.

  • Stiles, F. G. and A. F. Skutch. 1989. A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA. 511 pp.

  • Straight, C. in press. Chuck-will's Widow. In A. Poole and F. Gill, editors, The Birds of North America, No. XX. The Birds of North America Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

  • Straight, Carrie A. & Robert J. Cooper. 2000. Chuck-Will's Widow. The Birds of North America. Vol. 13, No. 499: American Orinithologists' Union. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

  • Terres, J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

  • Thompson, M. C. and C. Ely. 1989. Birds in Kansas. Vol. 1. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Lawrence, Kansas.

  • Webster, J. D. 1980. Red pine plantation. P. 62 in W. T. Van Velzen, editor. Forty-third breeding bird census. American Birds 34:14-106.

  • Zook, J. L. 2002. Distribution maps of the birds of Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Unpublished.

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