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What is the only bird known to go into topor?

The Common Poorwill is the only bird known to go into topor for extended periods – Weeks to months.

The Common Poorwill - Phalaenoptilus nuttallii - is a nocturnal bird in the nightjar family. It is found from British Columbia and southeastern Alberta, through the western United States to northern Mexico. The bird's habitat is dry, open areas with grasses or shrubs, and even stony desert slopes with very little vegetation.


The sexes are similar. Common Poorwills are mottled gray and brown with a white band across the chest and a pale collar around the neck. The upperparts vary from dark brown to light gray. The outer tail-feathers are tipped with white, the markings slightly more prominent in the male. It is a small sized nightjar, with a large head, short neck, short bill, rounded wings with tips that reach the end of the short tail at rest, and pale grey coloration.


A monotonous poor-will given from dusk to dawn and a chuck note in flight.


It feeds on nocturnal insects such as moths, beetles and grasshoppers. These nocturnal birds hunt from the ground, looking up into the sky and flying up to grab prey.


Breeding is from March to August. The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground. Clutch size is normally 2 creamy white eggs. Both sexes incubate for 20 to 21 days to hatching, with another 20 to 23 days to fledging.

Conservation Status – Least concern

This cryptic species is very difficult to survey accurately, although recent studies show it to be more abundant in many places than was previously thought. It is widespread, and numbers are probably stable, although more study is needed to get a better sense of the population status.


Common Poorwills are very difficult to see but are common in canyons and shrubby areas at the ecotone where the Ponderosa pine forests and shrub-steppe habitats meet in eastern Washington from late April through August. They can also be found in mountainous sagebrush habitat and in the Columbia Basin. Migrants have been recorded in western Washington as well but are extremely rare.


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