Call of the Whippoorwill

There was a marsh not far behind the house where I grew up in Central Wisconsin. On hot summer nights when we had every window in the house open, the whippoorwill would often begin calling when it was almost dark, about 9:30 PM.

Named for its call, the whippoorwill is a nocturnal bird that catches insects like mosquitoes and moths at night on the wing. With it’s superior camouflage, even if it were to venture out in daylight hours it would likely go unnoticed by most people. It is a medium sized bird, mostly brown with gold, almost orange speckles all over it, with some black and grayish white accents.

Whippoorwills nest on the ground amongst dead leaves in a shaded spot, laying only two eggs at a time. It does not construct a nest, but simply lays the eggs directly on the ground among the dead leaves. When walking in the area close to the eggs, which are not at all obvious, because the well-camouflaged bird is usually sitting on them, the bird will not fly away unless you practically step on it – by accident of course, since it is very hard to see. Both the male and female birds share the job of sitting on the eggs.

According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the female whippoorwill will often leave the nest when her chicks are only 7-9 days old and start another brood close by. The chicks are always timed to hatch just before a full moon so that the parent birds will have as long as possible to forage for food for their new babies. The most demanding time for the parent birds is right after the babies hatch when the new chicks are ravenous.

Whippoorwill -- fantastic camouflage
Whippoorwill -- fantastic camouflage

The Whippoorwill's Habitat

Whippoorwills can be found all over the United States, up into Canada, and deep into Mexico -- and even beyond into Nicaragua. Their song may vary somewhat in different regions. They are considered “long distance migrants” and winter from Florida, all through the Gulf states, and as far south as Nicaragua.

The call of the whippoorwill is one of the things I miss most since leaving Wisconsin. I can remember hearing it’s call even in the wee hours during the late spring, early summer, in this case around two to three in the morning, when everything was as still as it could be far out in the country, with only the crickets singing in the marshes as background for the whippoorwill.

Where I lived in Central Wisconsin, the woods included a mix of oak trees, maple trees, poplar trees, and tall pine trees. There were also open marshes with scrub trees (willows), brush, and some tallish grasses where bugs flourished, providing a rich food supply for the whippoorwill and it’s brood. These birds, according to Wisconsinbirds.org, much prefer the country and avoid urban and suburban areas as much as possible.

Call of the Whippoorwill

When you are listening to the whippoorwill’s call on the audio below, try to imagine you are hearing it through an open window, all lights out, pitch dark, far away from all other humans with only a soft chorus of crickets and peepers (tadpoles) for background.

Listen to the call of the whippoorwill

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Comments 81 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 months ago from North Texas Author

Shyron, thank you for gracing my comments section with your lovely verse! Stay well dear friend.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 months ago from North Texas Author

Audrey Howitt, thank you for your wonderful comment. I miss the country and all the natural sounds. Glad you enjoyed this article and hope you will have a chance to hear the whippoorwill in person one of these nights.


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AudreyHowitt 3 months ago from California

Loved listening to the sound of the whippoorwill--I don't think we have them where I live--at least I can't recall hearing that particular bird call near the house--this made me feel wistful for the countyside


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Here I am to listen to the sound of memories

In the darkness and shadows of the trees

I listen intently

As I am transported back in time

Except for the fact that I miss this bird

I am glad I have these memories

*

I just hope all is well with you

Blessings and Hugs dear friend


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 months ago from North Texas Author

Good to hear from you Bob (Diogenes). Hopefully my articles are mostly green. Hope all is well with you . . .

xxx


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Au fait 4 months ago from North Texas Author

Colorfulone, thank you for your wonderful comments. So glad you enjoyed this article!


diogenes 4 months ago

Had another listen to the Whippoorwill...fascinating name and it actually says "whippoorwill!"

I must have heard them when I was in the Americas and didn't recognise the calls. The bird looks a little like our Nightjar, (that's not the one I wee in these days!)

Your articles seem to have a long shelf life!?

Love Bob xo


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colorfulone 4 months ago from Minnesota

We use to have Whippoorwills around here when I was young, we would hear their calls in the evenings. I haven't heard them for many years. This hub brought back good memories, and I loved hearing the video. What a great sound to hear a Whippoorwill's call.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 months ago from North Texas Author

Grand old lady, thank you for coming by and reading my article! So glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I think the video is imperative so that people can hear the bird's call for themselves.


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grand old lady 4 months ago from Philippines

I am guilty of picking up phrases and reading headlines. So when your article spoke of the call of the whipporwill, I wanted immediately to know. Thank you too for adding the video so I know how it sounds:)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 6 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W., thank you for sharing this article! This is just the time of year when I used to hear the whippoorwill's call around 9 PM just as it was getting dark.

I have been fortunate in not having to confront flooding at all, but I understand there are places here that are flooding and there was even a death as a result! People need to be very careful about driving into standing water where the road should be -- but maybe isn't anymore. It is a sad situation. Rain seems to be over for now and instead we have heat that will only get worse as the summer continues. Hope you are safe and all is well. Take care . . .


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Peggy W 6 months ago from Houston, Texas

Sharing this good hub of yours again. Hope you remain safe in the flooded areas where you live. So much flooding of homes down here in the Houston area! They closed a major highway a couple of days ago to guide a herd of cattle to higher ground. Many have been drowned in fields that could not be rescued. Very sad situation!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 23 months ago from North Texas Author

Colorfulone, thank you for taking time to read and comment on this article! I have never seen a live whippoorwill either, and I was very surprised to see the picture I've included in this article. I would never have visualized whippoorwills the way they really look.


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 23 months ago from Minnesota

Interesting article about the Whippoorwill. I have heard their call since I was young, but I have never seen one of these birds in the wild. When I do hear one I am reminded of when my Dad told me what bird made that sound. I do not hear them often, and they are always at a distance so I cannot see them.


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Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Jenn-Anne, thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience!


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Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for sharing and Google+ing this article! Glad to have Dusty interested in my hubs too! ;)


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Jenn-Anne 2 years ago

I, too, remember hearing the whippoorwill as a child. I had forgotten all about it until I saw this hub. Thanks for sharing!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Sharing this hub once again and will Google+ it. Dusty our cat who was on the desk when I clicked on the video was VERY INTERESTED in the bird sounds. Ha!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for Tweeting and Pinning this article!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

It is always interesting learning about birds and wildlife. Will pin this to Awesome HubPages and also give it a tweet.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Shyron. Also appreciate the votes, the pin, and the share! My childhood memories aren't all the best either, but the past can't be changed so I try to forget about it. Hope you and John have a great week.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

All my childhood memories were not happy. But I can relive them at this time without it upsetting me or making me angry.

But, I do need to hear this sometimes, when I need a calming sound and I sometimes think that is what God made this particular bird for.

Don't count sheep, listen to the whippoorwill's.

Voting this up UABI, shared and pinned to Awesome HubPages.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for the read, the comment, and the votes and share! I hope the whippoorwill's call brings back good memories and happy times.


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Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

There were lots of other links too. Dinosaurs are thought to have been warm-blooded by some scientists because of their superior strength even to mammals. Thanks for stopping by Sam!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Au fait, I came back to hear the call of the whippoorwill. This is one of my favorites of your hubs.

I need this when I remembering my childhood.

Voted up, UABI, and shared.


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samowhamo 2 years ago

Thank you Au Fait. I understand what you mean now. Yes I have heard that before that dinosaurs were warm blooded animals. Actually it wasn't just some dinosaurs it was all dinosaurs they were all warm blooded but that doesn't mean that some were related to mammals. Birds are also warm blooded animals and all the evidence that scientists have found indicates that dinosaurs were more closely related to birds. No evidence has been found that they had any relation to mammals the fact that they were warm blooded is due to their relation to birds.

I appreciate the link Au Fait. :)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Here is one reference regarding some dinosaurs being mammals. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/dinosaurs...

There are lots more articles about it, just google it for yourself. I read about it the first time at least 10 years ago. ;)


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samowhamo 2 years ago

Your welcome Au Fait and yes I did hear the 13 second call. I have never heard anything that suggests some dinosaurs might be mammals. Are you sure they are talking about dinosaurs maybe they were talking about dimetrodon. Dimetrodon is a prehistoric animal that is often mistaken for a dinosaur but it is not really a dinosaur it is actually a mammal-like reptile which is an animal that has both reptilian and mammalian features in other words it's a reptile that has mammalian traits. As far as I know no evidence has ever been found that suggests that some dinosaurs might be mammal or mammal-like.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for checking this article out, Sam. Hope you took the 13 seconds to hear it's call.

Some scientists have suggested that some dinosaurs may have been mammals rather than reptiles. Nice explanation your wrote. Hope all is well with you . . .


samowhamo profile image

samowhamo 2 years ago

Very interesting Au Fait and a nice looking bird too. Which reminds me in my article Reptiles And Birds Different Or Similar you said that some scientists are not sure all dinosaurs are reptiles. In a sense yes they are right some dinosaurs are more bird-like than reptile-like in fact technically speaking birds are dinosaurs. There is evidence to support this for example if you look at the dinosaur family tree and look at the different classifications of dinosaurs you will notice that birds are branched with meat eating dinosaurs. Another example would be the fact that there have been dinosaur remains found with feathers and beaks just like a bird. Another example would be that all birds carry the genes of dinosaurs as stated in my article Creating Dinosaurs. Also when chicken embryos are developing the have a very dinosaur-like tail and teeth but the tail and teeth are lost as the embryo finishes developing. Also the skeletal structure of birds is similar to the skeletal structure of meat eating dinosaurs particularly small meat eating dinosaurs, some dinosaurs also had hollow bones just like a bird and also the wings of birds use to be clawed arms like on a dinosaur. Due to all of these similarities scientists have now divided dinosaurs into to two different types Saurian and Avian (the Saurians are the prehistoric dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus and all of those other dinosaurs and the Avians are birds).


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for stopping by and for the vote and the share!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

I am here again to listen to one of my favorite bird calls. This is one of the sounds I miss from the state of my birth.

Voted up and shared again.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you rebeccamealey, for reading, commenting, and voting on this article! My supervisor tells me there are whippoorwills here in town, but I have not heard one since leaving my childhood home.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you DDE for commenting on this article. I hope you were able to hear the call of the whippoorwill on the audio I provided . . .


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for your high praise, and for the votes, and share, etc. I do miss the whippoorwills.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I use to hear whippoorwills and bob whites too years ago. I never hear them anymore. Nice article, voted interesting and awesome!


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Call of the Whippoorwill a unique hub and educational. It must be a beautiful sound from the Whippoorwill and we don't have them here in Croatia.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Anyone who has ever gone to sleep to the sound of the whippoorwills, know how soothing that is.

Hope it wins EC. Really should be HOTD.

Voted up U/A/B/I and shared


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for visiting again Shyron, and for voting on and sharing this article. I hope this holiday season will be full of love and peace for you and your whole family.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Au fait, I am back for the calming effect of this bird.

Voted up, UABI and shared.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Shyron, thank you for stopping by, voting on and sharing this article. Glad if it gives you comfort. I'm told there are whippoorwills in Texas, and right here in town where I live, but I've never heard one.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Au fait, when I get emotional I have to come here and listen to the sound that I miss from my childhood. Mr. Happy's 'Cheers to those who try!' made me cry and here I am to listen to the whippoorwill.

Voted up, ABI and sharing again


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron for stopping by to hear the beautiful call of the whippoorwill, and for voting on, and sharing this article!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thanks for stopping by Bobby (diogenes). Appreciate your sharing your thoughts.

I miss the country and the wildlife I grew up around. There are birds and small mammals here in town of course, but they too are hard to enjoy living in an apartment.

Do hope you are well . . xox


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico

Such a humble little chap with a lovely sound as it says its name over and over. We don't have them here...I have never even heard a nightingale in the wild as there are so few. I love the blackbirds and song thrushes here...and the little sweet song of the garden robin. I cannot hear calls from the wild without feeling how unnatural our own lives have become with the great cities, cars and roads. Steinbeck in Log From the Sea of Cortez said he couldn't hear the call of the doves in the desert without wanting to follow them forever and never return. I know just what he means. Just to imagine that these creatures have been leading the same simple lives and their calls going out millions of years before man even arrived...

Bob xo


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I need to hear the Whippoorwill today for when I feel sad or lonely, the sound makes me feel better.

Voted up, UABI, and shared again.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Au fait, I had to come back for the memory of the Whippoorwills that I heard calling in the night. It brings back so many memories.

Voted up, ABI, shared and pinned on Amazing HubPages Board. In case someone would like to hear the calling of the Whippoorwill.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you moonlake for pinning this hub! The whippoorwill is one of my favorite birds and I had never seen one before researching this article. I hope you had a chance to hear it's call on the video provided. :)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Came back to pin this on my bird board.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for sharing your experience with me and my readers. How lucky that you saw a whippoorwill! I have never seen the real thing. I'm glad this article with the photos made it possible to identify it when you saw it. I miss not hearing their call and it's that time of year when they usually call starting around 8:30-9:00 PM.

Thank you for pinning too!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

I just came back to tell you that when my husband and I came home the other evening, there was a whippoorwill sitting on the ground in front of our house. We wouldn't have recognized what it was, except for your article! I am pinning this to my Interesting Articles board. :)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Deborah-Diane, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub. The Whippoorwill is one of my favorite birds.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

Along with the bobwhite, the whippoorwill has a lovely song. I can remember hearing them both on warm summer nights when I was growing up in Missouri. Great info about them.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by and for pinning this hub. This is one of my most popular hubs so I think people do enjoy finally getting to see what a whippoorwill looks like and hear how it sounds.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Came back to pin this hub now that I have joined Pinterest. People should like learning about this bird with the distinctive call.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

I'm glad you enjoy this hub Shyron. I love whippoorwills, but I haven't heard a real one since I was a teenager. Thank you for stopping by.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W, for reading, commenting, voting on, and sharing this hub! So glad you enjoyed it. Whippoorwill is one of my favorite birds.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Author Cheryl, thank you for reading and commenting on my hub. Nice to know these birds are in NJ. My supervisor at work told me they are here in TX too, but I have never heard one since leaving WI where I grew up.


Author Cheryl profile image

Author Cheryl 3 years ago

I grew up in New Jersey with these birds. They have a lovely sound. It was the true sign of spring when you woke up to these birds.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I am back to hear the whippoorwill call. It brings back memories of when I was little.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Natashalh. Glad too, that you've finally gotten to see what a whippoorwill looks like!


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 3 years ago from Hawaii

So that's what they look like! When I was a kid staying on my grandparent's farm, I always told it would be time for me to come inside when I heard the whippoorwills.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Au fait,

I also grew up in the countryside of central Wisconsin and we were surrounded by fields and also a woods. I well remember the open windows and the noises made by crickets and birds. This was so interesting about the Whippoorwill. I have never seen one and now know why. Voted UUI and will share. Thanks for the video showcasing the sound of the Whippoorwill and the photo. It is a pretty bird.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for your comments Shyron! I've never heard the whippoorwill here in Texas either, but my supervisor at work tells me they are here and that she has heard one near the parking lot where I work! I do miss its song.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Georges. There is a soundtrack on this hub so you should be able to hear the wound of the whippoorwill. Take care . . .


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

Love the sound of the whipoorwill calling in the night, I have to come here every once in a while to listen to it. I have never heard them in this state. The coyote would probably have them for supper.


georges 4 years ago

very interesting and wonderful hub.

I love it.

I would like to hear the whipoorwill song.

very interesting.

good luck dear.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

moonlake, thank you for reading and commenting on my hub! Learning about all the little odd characteristics of different animals and plants can be so interesting!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

There use to be a wippoorwill that sat on our picnic

table every night and do it's call. It never bothered us. Interesting about leaving chicks at 7-9 days old and start another brood close by. Voted Up and more.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you sgbrown for reading and commenting on my hub! Glad you enjoyed it. I miss hearing the whippoorwill and haven't heard one since I left home after high-school in Wisconsin.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Wonderfu hub. I love listening to the whipporwills in the evening. They are common here in Southern Oklahoma, although I have never seen one either. I love to sit outside in the evening and listen to them. It is one of those "calls of the country". Voted this up and interesting. Have a wonderful day! :)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

bdegiulio, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Very much appreciate it. I don't think I've ever seen a real whippoorwill either, even though I heard them almost every summer night growing up.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for sharing, Shyron, and for commenting on my hub!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

aviannovice: Thank you for reading and leaving a comment! Always appreciate you and all of my readers taking time to do that!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Nettlemere: Thank you for taking time to read and comment on my hub. I very much appreciate it. Because of your comments I checked, and there are several sites that state the whippoorwills are members of the nightjar family.

Welcome to hubpages! Love your hub on gorillas. It's fab!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Very interesting Hub. I have often heard the call of the Whippoorwill but I can't ever recall seeing one. Now I know why. Thanks for sharing and educating.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading Diogenes -- Had to get this published before you beat me to it! Love the whippoorwill. Miss not hearing it now for a long time.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

Love your hub! We had Whipoorwills in Alabama also. I lay awake at night and listen to them.

Awesome!!!! My husband whistles and we have a Mockingbird the mocks him.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Voted awesome and up. It's nice to hear about different birds from other parts of the country. Thank you.


Nettlemere profile image

Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

Loved reading about the Whipoorwill and hearing the call. I wonder if they are related to British nightjars (similarly coloured and nocturnal) which I have seen and heard, but not photographed myself hence if you want to compare they can be seen at http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/n/n...


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

What's going on here Misty, trying to shoot me the bird!

We got a chirping contest here?

Nice. The Whippoorwill has a lovely name. Like Chollita.

Keep up the good work

Bob x

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    C E Clark (Au fait)593 Followers
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    C. E. Clark has an unquenchable curiosity for things unique, and loves to bring those things she discovers to the attention of her readers.



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