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Chuck-will’s-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis)

Posted on Feb 13, 2015

This Chuck-will’s-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis), a female, was captured and banded in Costa Rica by RTPI Affiliate Sean Graesser, a first for the site list at Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica’s first national park. What makes the species special to us is a great birding memory from the spring of 2012. One early May morning I was walking the property at Stratford Point in Stratford, Connecticut, conducting an avian site survey. It was a temperate but cloudy, drizzly and foggy morning, with some confused migrant birds overshooting their likely targets, pushing into Long Island Sound and ending up too far north. Other more expected arrivals littered the site despite the fact it holds few trees and is mostly coastal grasslands with scattered wooded vegetation. Rather shockingly I flushed a roosting bird of a small white pine, it flying a few feet in front of me to another pine and then flushing immediately again out of site in dense vegetation. I was flabbergasted, but the initial look gave me the immediate impression of a nightjar – and not a Whippoorwill! During the second flush the bird also gave a low grunting noise. Now RTPI President Twan Leenders, Sean and I all searched the area for a while and came up with nothing. Later that evening I waited for it to hopefully pop out with a couple dozen birders, very certain I had seen a Chuck-will’s-widow, a bird that should be at Long Island at its highest typical range. Sure enough, I saw it sitting on a fence just after dusk, and we witnessed it flying and feeding, grunting and swooping over our heads. It was a memorable day and night that we all recalled fondly. I wonder when the next Chuck will visit Connecticut.

Chuck-will's-widow (Antrostomus carolinensis) female Cabo Blanco

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator