I saw the remains of a bird today I did not recognize, and it was pretty mangled so it was hard to describe it. It was about the size of a robin. However, it had a dark brown mottled body like nothing I have ever seen. I have included below a tail feather from the bird which is 5 inches long. I am sure it is not a thrush or a woodcock or a kestrel. So what was it?

Location is Great Bay, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States.

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1 Answer 1


I believe this is a tail feather (or retrix) from an adult male eastern whip-poor-will (Antrostomus vociferus). See right image below (click to zoom):

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Source: USFWS Forensics Laboratory


  1. The brown, mottled appearance and the size (~12 cm) match that of the OP's specimen.

  2. The whip-poor-will's breeding grounds include the OP's location (i.e., New Hampshire), and according to All About Birds this species could still be present even late in the year ("they seem to leave between early September and late November.").

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    Orange is breeding. Source: All About Birds.

  3. The whip-poor-will is a medium sized bird and similar in size to an American robin.

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    Eastern whip-poor-will, (c) Paul Cools, source: inaturalist


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