Goatsuckers and Allies


Adapted for aerial insect foraging, most members of this unusual group have a short, weak bill with bristles at the base and a very large mouth opening. Typically nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn), they are more often seen than heard, as their calls pierce the night loudly and repeatedly. During the day they rest quietly on the ground or on a branch. Their soft plumage is usually brown or gray and highly cryptic. The name goatsucker comes from an ancient Greek myth that claimed they suckled milk from goats. This myth is unfounded and perhaps started as an explanation for the birds’ wide gapes and their low flight over pastures in the evenings. Just one family is found in Washington:

Families Found in Washington