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GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Common Poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii)

Species Code: PHNU

Click to enlarge Range map

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat

Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)

Click to enlarge distribution map

Map with Breeding Bird Atlas records

Other maps & Information:
  • Breeding Bird Atlas
  • NatureMapping observations
    during breeding season
  • NatureMapping observations
    throughout the year

This species was fairly common in canyons and open shrubby areas with rocky outcroppings in eastern Washington, especially along the east slopes of the Cascades and below the margins of northeastern Washington forests. They are however, mostly restricted to the Oak, Ponderosa Pine, and Three-tip Sage zone, but extending out to the Central Arid Steppe zone. Most occur along the lower treeline of the east Cascades. They are less common from the Okanogan Highlands east to Spokane, and in canyons of Asotin and Garfield Counties in southeastern Washington.

Steppe, Ponderosa Pine, Grand Fir in the Blues, and Oak zones were core areas of use. In the steppe zones, wetlands, steppe, and forests were good. In the core forested zones, riparian areas, openings in the forest, and open-canopy forests were good. Also, there was peripheral habitat in the Interior Douglas-fir zone locally in the east Cascades, where only forest openings were good.

The subspecies nesting in Washington is the nominate race P. n. nuttallii. Topography as much as vegetation limits the Poorwill’s distribution in Washington, since it requires a combination of rocky ledges or canyons and open, shrubby habitat. Experts noted that poorwills prefer to nest in dry, open areas, usually near Ponderosa Pine stands. They are mostly found in rolling topography of the East Cascades at the ecotone between the Ponderosa Pine zone and steppe zones. In steppe zones, poorwills are noted in terrain containing basalt/rimrock cliffs and outcroppings, such as on the Yakima Training Center. They have been listed as probable breeders in the channeled scablands, but no citations were provided. Singing birds have been hear throughout the breeding season in the steppe canyons of the southeastern Washington, especially in Asotin County, and poorwills probably also nests along the Snake River in Whitman, Asotin, and Garfield Counties. Early May records are also known from near Scootenay Reservoir, but poorwill breeding status in unknown there. Poorwills may occasionally be found in the Columbia River valley in Ferry and Stevens Counties and along the Pend Oreille River valley in Pend Oreille County, but breeding status in these areas is unknown. A calling bird was heard in 1960 by two researchers in Pend Oreille County at Scotchman Lake. An unusual record is from a clearcut in a montane forested area on the south slope of Mount Adams, where calling birds were heard throughout the breeding season in 1994 and 1995.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester