I have known both birds from my early youth, I have seldom seen a farmer or even a boy in the United States, who did not know the difference between them.
It is a remarkable fact that even the largest moths on which the Whip-poor-will feeds, are always swallowed tail foremost, and when swallowed, the wings and legs are found closely laid together, and as if partially glued by the saliva or gastric juice of the bird. The act of deglutition must be greatly aided by the long bristly feathers of the upper mandible, as these no doubt force the wings of the insects close together, before they enter the mouth.
I have represented a male and two females, as well as some of the insects on which they feed. The former are placed on a branch of Red Oak, that tree being abundant on the skirts of the Kentucky Barrens, where the Whip-poor-will is most plentiful.
Caprimulgus vociferus, Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 62.
Whip-poor-will, Caprimulgus vociferus, Wils. Amer, Ornith. vol. v. p. 71. Pl. 41. fig. 1. Male, fig. 2. Female, fig. 3. Young.
Adult Male. Plate LXXXII. Fig. 1.
Bill extremely short, feeble, opening to beyond the eyes, making the mouth, when open, of enormous dimensions; upper mandible arched in its dorsal outline, very broad at the base, suddenly contracted at the tip, which is compressed and rather obtuse; lower mandible decurved. Nostrils basal, oval, prominent, covered above by a membrane. Head disproportionately large. Eyes and ears very large. Neck short. Body rather slender. Feet very short; tarsus partly feathered, anteriorly scutellate below; fore toes three, connected to the second joint by membranes, scutellate above; claws depressed, arched, that of the middle toe with the inner edge expanded and pectinate.
Plumage blended, soft and silky, without much gloss. Upper mandible margined at the base with stiff bristles, much longer than the bill, extending forwards and outwards. Wings long, narrow, the second and third quills longest. Tail rather long, ample, even, of ten broad rounded feathers.
Bill dark brown. Iris dark hazel. Feet reddish-purple, the scales and claws blackish. The general colour of the upper parts is dark