News & Events

Nighthawks and Whip-poor-wills: The Goatsuckers of New Hampshire

(by Rebecca Suomala) New Hampshire has only two members of the Nightjar family (Caprimulgidae), Eastern Whip-poor-will and Common Nighthawk, both of which are monitored by NH Audubon. Why is this family of birds also called Goatsuckers? It comes from an ancient superstition (back to at least Aristotle) that they suck at goats’ teats at night. Carpimulgus is Latin for “goatsucker.” In reality, they are insect eaters, members of the aerial insectivors whose populations have been declining.

Read about what’s happening with these two species in New Hampshire:

Eastern Whip-poor-wills
Common Nighthawks in 2020

Photo: Two Common Nighthawk chicks at a nest in the Concord area, 7-3-20, by Rebecca Suomala.