Thursday, July 10, 2014

Common Pauraque

On 22 February 2014, during our Texas trip, Erika and I drove to one of our favorite birding locations, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. We arrived just in time to accompany a bird walk led by refuge volunteers. We do not often take group bird walks, but we sure were happy we did this time. We would never have seen two Common Pauraques sleeping by the side a trail. Even as our guides pointed them out, the birds were difficult to see. I could see the odd, bold wing pattern, but not the bird’s shape.  It was just so cryptically camouflaged—and the bird was only a few feet away from us. Note the bird's long tail!

The Common Pauraque is found from southern Texas south to South America. Pauraques are relatives to whip-poor-wills and are, indeed, common—they are just very hard to see. Consequently little is known about this species’ biology. Males are unusual among nightjars in that they share incubation duties. They feed low to the ground at night, jumping up to catch flying arthropods. The word “pauraque” may be derived from one of its calls, which sounds like “para que” in Spanish. In any event, pauraques are well represented in Latin American folk lore. Pauraques lead women astray and occasionally make virgins pregnant (Latta and Howell 1999).

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