which is the only bird that hibernates

Bears and other mammals hibernate but what about birds? Do birds hibernate? Hibernation in birds is very rare because they are a lot more mobile than mammals. To escape cold weather and lack of food, they can just use their wings to migrate to warmer areas.

So, what is the only bird that hibernates? On cold nights, several hummingbirds that live in cool climates slow their heart rate and lower their body temperature. This process is known as “torpor” and although it is essentially a temporary form of hibernation, it only lasts for one night.

The one bird species that does hibernate is a bird in the Nightjar family. Related to nighthawks and Whip-poor-wills, the Common Poorwill can “sleep” for 25 days.

See this article to learn all about this unique bird, why it hibernates, and how it can sleep for more than three weeks!

The Only Bird That Hibernates

The Common Poorwill is a tiny, nocturnal bird that resembles a moth and is about 8 inches long. It is similar in size to the Wood Thrush and grosbeak. Its face and throat are black, and its mottled gray body has some black markings on it. Additionally, this species has some buff coloring on its belly, under its tail, and under its wings, as well as a small patch of white on the lower part of its throat.

The Common Poorwill is monogamous in appearance, with the exception of males having white on the tips of their black and gray tails. The females’ mottled gray tail has a dull buffy tip.

which is the only bird that hibernates

Moreover, medium-sized, round wings and a relatively short, broad tail are features of common poorwills.

Throughout most of the western United States, east to Kansas, this species of nightjar inhabits grasslands, deserts, and other open environments. Additionally, they reside in a few locations in northern Mexico and western Canada. Many are also thought to migrate for the winter to Mexico and the southwest of the United States.

From dusk until dawn, the Common Poorwill consumes insects that it catches for food. It waits on a rock or the ground and uses its large mouth to swoop down on insects as it forages.

The name of this species comes from its characteristic, repeated cry of “poor will.” This is a typical sound of spring and early summer evenings in western open habitats.

Behavior edit

The only bird that has been observed to enter a prolonged state of torpor (weeks to months) is the common poorwill. This occurs in the southernmost region of its range in the United States, where it hibernates for the majority of the winter under cover of boulder piles. This behavior has been reported in California and New Mexico. It is unknown to other birds that torpor for such a long time is equivalent to a state of hibernation. It was described definitively by Dr. Based on a poorwill he found hibernating in the California Chuckwalla Mountains in 1946, Edmund Jaeger [10] Common Poorwill,.

Meriwether Lewis saw common poorwills hibernating in North Dakota in 1804, while on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Despite Lewis’s meticulous documentation of these observations in his journal, their significance remained unclear. This was caused, at least in part, by the fact that the common poorwill was not then identified as a separate species from the eastern North American whip-poor-will. The poorwill’s behavior was probably known to the Hopi tribe’s Native Americans even earlier; the bird’s Hopílavayi name, hölchko, means “The Sleeping One.” [11][12][13].

What Does the Hibernation Process Look Like?

Common Poorwills frequently hibernate for extended periods of time while simultaneously lowering their body temperature and metabolism. Although hibernation typically lasts ten days or less, some people have been known to hibernate for up to 25 days.

The main causes of the process are starvation and/or cold temperatures, whether the animal is hibernating for several days or going into torpor for a few hours. Common Poorwills frequently go into torpor for a few hours on cool nights in the spring and fall before waking up again at dawn.

Additionally, while incubating and at other times, they can go into torpor. But many Common Poorwills hibernate for several days at a time between December and February. Apart from feeding more frequently at dusk, these birds don’t take many steps to prepare for hibernation.

which is the only bird that hibernates

which is the only bird that hibernates

Additionally, they can hibernate for a longer period of time using the same roost sites as they do throughout the year. While a small number of them hibernate in caves, the majority “sleep” on the ground, usually near a rock, small tree, or bush.

This species tucks its head in and keeps its down during hibernation. It usually wakes back up when the air gets warmer.


Which is the only species of bird to go into true hibernation?

Only one bird species has been noted as truly hibernating – the common poorwill. It is the only bird known to go into torpor for more than a few days, often lasting between a few weeks to months, therefore it is deemed to hibernate.

Does the common poorwill hibernate?

The Common Poorwill was the first bird discovered to hibernate, or go into torpor. The birds’ temperature can drop to as low as 41 degrees, and their rate of respiration is reduced up to 90%. They can remain in this state for days or weeks at a time.

Does the Whippoorwill hibernate?

It happens when an animal slows its body functions to conserve energy and heat. The bird’s heart rate will slow; so does its breathing and body temperature. Several species of birds can go into brief states of torpor to conserve energy: hummingbirds, doves, and the poorwill’s close cousin, the Whip-poor-will.

What kind of bird is a common poorwill?

Basic Description. On desert nights in western North America, Common Poorwills chant their name into the darkness for hours on end. During the day, these gray-brown nightjars stay camouflaged against the ground and are extremely hard to see.