Family Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Least Concern

Mexican Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus arizonae)


French: Engoulevent d’Arizona German: Mexikonachtschwalbe Spanish: Chotacabras cuerporruín mexicano

Antrostomus vociferus arizonæ


, 1881,

Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona


Formerly considered conspecific with A. noctitherus, and until recently also with A. vociferus, from which it differs in its similarly patterned but notably modified song, with more “rolling r” notes (“cuerrrporrruín” or a rolling, trilled “g-prrip prréé” vs “whip-poor-will” or a loud, clear, emphatic whistle, “WHIP puwiw WEEW”), somewhat differently pitched and stressed (3); flushing call a rather deep, muffled, rising “gwirp” vs a single liquid “pwip” (2); somewhat larger (8%) size#R (score presumed at 1); smaller white tips on outer tail (1); paler overall plumage (1); more tawny-ochraceous lores and ear-coverts#R (1); only light brown barring on undertail-coverts#R (ns[1]); egg pigmentation is said to be different but this requires confirmation, as do colour of gular stripe#R and length of rictal bristles#R. Further support for this split was found in recent phylogenetic study#R. Five subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. arizonae Brewster, 1881 – SW USA (mountains from S California E to W Texas) S to C Mexico (N Guanajuato); winters in C Mexico.
  • A. a. setosus (van Rossem, 1934) – E Mexico (Coahuila S in mountains to Veracruz).
  • A. a. oaxacae Nelson, 1900 – SW Mexican mountains (Jalisco S to Oaxaca).
  • A. a. chiapensis Nelson, 1900 – S Mexico (Chiapas) and highlands of Guatemala.
  • A. a. vermiculatus Dickey & van Rossem, 1928 – highlands of Honduras and El Salvador.
  • Descriptive notes

    22–27 cm; male 42–61·9 g, female 43·9–61 g. Very similar to previously conspecific A. voceiferus, from which most readily separated by voice and, to a lesser extent... read more


    Song of race arizonae more liquid and melodious, and slower than A. vociferus,... read more


    Race arizonae occurs in lowland oak woods and mixed forest of oak and sycamore, in... read more

    Food and feeding

    No differences known from A. vociferus.


    Compared to A. vociferus, breeding data are fewer, especially for Middle American populations. Breeds May–Aug in SW USA (eggs laid... read more


    Nominate arizonae is migratory, arriving on breeding grounds in SW USA mainly by late Apr... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Reasonably common in SW USA, where mean number along 18 1·6-km mountain transects through pine-oak woodlands in Arizona was 5·6 (range 1–12).... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Mexican Whip-poor-will (Antrostomus arizonae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).