Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Goatsucker, any bird of the Passerine family Caprimulgidee, with 17 genera containing 91 species. The Cuvierian and scientific names perpetuate the memory of an erroneous popular belief, dating from the days of Aristotle, that these birds suck the milk of goats. Goatsuckers are twilight insectivorous birds, owl-like in appearance, taking their prey on the wing. The gape is very wide, and set with bristles along the margin of the short curved bill; the hind toe can be directed forward, and (except in the South American genus Nyctibius) the middle claw is serrated, thdugh the purpose of this is not known. The plumage of all is exceedingly soft, generally shades of brown and grey, with delicate markings. The flight is swift and noiseless, and the cry weird - that of some species strangely resembling human utterance. [Whippoor-Will.] The common goatsucker (C. europccus) about ten inches long, widely distributed on the Continent, Asia, and North Africa, visits Britain in May, frequenting woody places, heaths, and fermcovered tracts, rearing its brood, and returning southward in September. From its haunts it is called the Fern-owl, and from its cry the Night-jar, Night-churr, or Churn-owl. The Podafgidae, or frog-mouths, chiefly from Australia, are closely allied to the goatsuckers, but are slightly larger, and have a wider gape. [Guacharo.]