Breeding Bird Atlas 1 Additional Accounts


Caprimulgus carolinensis

Uncertainty and frustration best characterize the breeding status of the Chuck-will’swidow in Massachusetts. Despite the fact that this robust nightjar has gradually been extending its breeding range northward during the last half of the twentieth century, the species has never been “confirmed” as a breeder in the Bay State. Chuck-will’swidows arrived on Long Island, New York, as breeders in 1975 (Bull 1976); and, in Massachusetts, calling birds have been heard more or less regularly and continuously at Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Chappaquiddick Island since the early 1970s. Despite several serious attempts to confirm nesting through the years, no definitive breeding evidence has ever been established beyond the persistent calling of individuals late into the breeding season. Even though this species was listed as a “probable” breeder during the Atlas period, final confirmation of its Massachusetts breeding will likely be the result of a serendipitous discovery of a nest or young.

Aside from those summering on the Islands, Chuck-will’s-widows are rare but regular late-spring and early-summer visitors that occur most frequently in southeastern Massachusetts, although they occasionally show up elsewhere in the state.