21 Jul 2010

Chuck-will's Widow in the Bahamas

By David Wege
Chuck-will's Widow Caprimulgus carolinensis breeds across much of the eastern United States and winters in Florida, Central America, the West Indies and northern South America. The species has long been considered a rare to uncommon winter visitor to the Bahamas, although there have been suggestions that it might breed. Following up on these leads, Bill Hayes and co-workers conducted surveys on Norh Andros, Grand Bahama, and Great Abaco during 2007 and 2009. They discovered a large and healthy breeding population of this nightjar - up to 214 pairs on Andros, 390 pairs on Grand Bahama and 192 pairs on Abaco. They suggest that the species may breed on New Providence and should be searched for on other Bahamas islands. This species has also been collected in the breeding season in Cuba, indicating that there may be a breeding population there too. Clearly, our knowledge of the status and distribution of nocturnal birds throughout the Caribbean (a number of which are endemic and globally threatened) requires further attention through targeted surveys such as those undertaken by Hayes et al. Full details of the Chuck-will's Widow surveys were recently published as: Hayes, W. K., Bracey, E. D., Price, M. R., Robinette, V., Gren, E. and Stahala, C. (2010) Population status of Chuck-will's-Widow (Caprimulgus carolinensis) in the Bahamas. Wilson J. Orn. 122(2): 381-384. Photo credit: Chuck-will's-Widow (Pete Morris/ Birdquest)