Mexican Whip-poor-will

Antrostomus arizonae

  • Authors: Cink, Calvin L.
  • Published: Jan 1, 2002

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Figure 1. Distribution of the Mexican Whip-poor-will.

This species is a rare and irregular winter resident north and south of distribution shown. See text for details.

Adult male Mexican Whip-poor-will.

Adult males have bold white tail corners; females are buffy.

© Moises Rodriguez, Sololá, Guatemala, 6 October 2015

Editor’s Note (August 2016): Maps, rich media, and text have been updated to reflect a taxonomic change/split for this species. This species account is still being edited and may contain content from an earlier version of the account. 

More frequently heard than seen, the beautifully cryptic Mexican Whip-poor-will is an elusive species even for seasoned field ornithologists. Much of the biology of the Mexican Whip-poor-will remains unstudied, largely due to its nocturnal activity and cryptic behavior and plumage. What we do know about its behavior, physiology, and ecology is often anecdotal, at best, and presumed to be similar to its former conspecific, the Eastern Whip-poor-will (A. vociferus).

The Mexican Whip-poor-will does not overlap in range with the Eastern Whip-poor-will; whereas the latter is found throughout the Eastern U.S., the Mexican Whip-poor-will is only present in the U.S. in summer, and is a thought to be a permanent resident in further south in Mexico.

Like many nightjars, the Mexican Whip-poor-will usually forage only at dawn or dusk. A ground-nesting species, it lays its clutch of 2 eggs directly on leaf litter of the forest floor. 

Recommended Citation

Cink, Calvin L.. (2002). Mexican Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus arizonae), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America:

DOI: 10.2173/bna.620b