Outdoor Radio: Whip-poor-wills in the Moonlight

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Biologists Kent McFarland and Sarah Zahendra head out to West Haven, Vermont at dusk to brave a cloud of mosquitos in search of the song of the threatened whip-poor-will. They are on the edge of the Helen W. Buckner Preserve in West Haven.

Whip-poor-will nest. / Burke Museum

Whip-poor-will nest. / Burke Museum

“We’re in the middle of nowhere and light is falling,” says McFarland. “It’s going to be dark pretty soon, there’s quite a few mosquitoes around my head. Where exactly are we?”

“We are in my favorite place in Vermont and we are about to listen for my favorite Vermont bird, and you know what that is? The Whip-poor-will,” answers Zahendra.

 

 

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VCE biologists Sarah Carline and Sara Zahendra survey Whip-poor-wills. The bright flecks around them are hoards of mosquitos. / © K.P. McFarland

VCE biologists Sarah Carline and Sara Zahendra survey Whip-poor-wills. The bright flecks around them are hoards of mosquitos. / © K.P. McFarland

Sara Zahendra and Mark LaBarr checking Common Tern nests. / © K.P. McFarland

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Comments (7)

  1. Annie Dolan says:

    I have only one complaint about the resident whippoorwills on my hill here in Waits River, VT….their insistence at waking us up at 4:00 am! I don’t mind the 9:00 serenades but 4:00 is pushing it. They often sit right on the deck rail a outside our bedroom window..I can see them but if I even move ( to get a camera) ..poof..gone.

  2. Mariah Freemole says:

    I went to W. Haven last night…all “conditions” you mentioned as being conducive to hearing a whippoorwill were present, but we did not hear any. I know there’s no guarantee, but am wondering if there is a certain time of the year when it’s MORE likely to hear them… Also, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as to why we may not have heard any (we were only 2 and were *quiet* 🙂 ).

    Thank you!

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