Weekly Puzzler Answer #38


Many birds migrate for the winter, traveling to places where food will be more readily available. They do not migrate simply to escape the cold temperatures as feathers provide sufficient warmth to endure the frigid air. But in many parts of the Untied States, winter means not very many insects and birds that feed primarily on insects need to go elsewhere.

A bird called a Common Poorwill however DOES eat insects and does NOT migrate.  Instead, it hibernates, entering a state of what’s called “torpor” during which it slows down its metabolism and drops its temperature –to as low as 41 degrees– to basically sleep for days or even weeks at a time. During torpor their respiration is reduced up to 90%! Common Poorwills are said to be the only bird that hibernates.

Unknown-2The Common Poorwill is in the Nightjar family and is common throughout the western United States. Like other birds in its family, it has AMAZING camouflage, able to blend into its surroundings so perfectly that few people ever get to see one, unless it’s a quick glimpse of one in the headlights on a road after dark. In fact, this is the first puzzler that I have ever done that I could not supply my own photo–these photos are from Wikipedia.

Common Poorwills are 7.5 -8.3 inches long, weigh just under 2 ounces and have tiny feet and a tiny bill. They spend much of their time on the ground, sleeping during the day and hunting during the night. They hunt insects from a perch on the ground.

Resources, including more pictures of this bird:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology




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