The caprimulgidae include birds such as the nighthawk, Chuck-will’s-widow, Poor-will and Whip-poor-will. They are the nightjar family. They are commonly referred to as “goat suckers”. This odd name springs from an old, old legend. Once, people really believed that nightjars visited goats at night and drank their milk! While it’s not unlikely that the birds may have been flying above fields where goats were kept, they were really flying through the sky “hawking” insects. Nightjars have tiny beaks but when they open them, they expose huge, cavernous mouths. They open their beaks as they fly through clouds of insects, scooping enormous amounts of insects into their mouths. They can eat more than 2000 insects in one feeding period!

Perhaps it’s the size of those mouths that had people confused and made them think that they were sucking milk from goats. Are we SURE they don’t suck milk?

Well, to suck, you need lips! Have you ever seen a nightjar with lips? Neither have we! Read more about this fascinating species.

I am a caprimulgidae , which means “goat sucker”, but I’m not a kid!

My family name is nightjar. People call me that because of my loud or “jarring” cry.

My nearest relative may well be the owl.

I have the biggest mouth you’ve ever seen!
My middle toe is called the feather toe.
People also call me bull-bat, mosquito hawk, pisk, pork-and-beans, will-o’-the-wisp and poor-will.

I eat so many mosquitoes and other insects that I’m an asset to any yard!

Can you guess who I am?

I am a Nighthawk!


Booming Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Lesser Nighthawk

Texas Nighthawk

Buff-collared Nightjar




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