Bird Bio: East­ern Whip­poor­will

Modern Pioneer - - Pioneer Post -

The east­ern whip­poor­will is a scrappy lit­tle bird that boasts such ex­cel­lent cam­ou­flage it doesn’t even need to build a nest for its brood.

The brindled birds are fa­mous for their dis­tinc­tive call that’s echoed in their name. Feed­ing pri­mar­ily at night, the car­niv­o­rous birds sub­sist ex­clu­sively on in­sects such as moths, ants, bees, fire­flies, wee­vils and scav­enger bee­tles. They be­gin search­ing for food 30 min­utes af­ter sun­set and stop when it gets too dark for them to see. The birds’ eyes are equipped with a re­flec­tive struc­ture be­hind the retina that al­lows them to see in­sects’ sil­hou­ettes against the sky, as­sist­ing in their night­time dining forays.

East­ern whip­poor­wills avoid large, un­in­ter­rupted forests cov­ered with dense canopies. Their pre­ferred breed­ing grounds are dry de­cid­u­ous or ev­er­green de­cid­u­ous forests with min­i­mal un­der­brush. The birds’ feath­ers so closely match the brown­ish-gray leaf lit­ter of their breed­ing grounds that they don’t even bother build­ing nests, pre­fer­ring to hatch their eggs di­rectly on the ground and then move nestlings around as they grow to avoid preda­tors.

Keep an ear open for the haunt­ing whip­poor­will call next time you’re en­joy­ing the forests of the east­ern United States. For more info on these plen­ti­ful yet in­ter­est­ing birds, check out al­labout­

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