What Does A Whippoorwill Sound Like?

December 9, 2022 by No Comments

Although Eastern Whip-poor-wills are not technically songbirds, their whip-poor-will call functions as a song, since males consistently repeat this call from conspicuous perches during the breeding season.

On occasion, the Eastern Whip-poor-will will clap its wings to scare off intruders from its territory.

What is Whippoorwill?

Since it primarily flies, eats, and sings after dark and sleeps during the day, seeing a whippoorwill is not all that common. The speckled brown whippoorwill has a head that is somewhat flat; it looks like a small owl. Its name can also be spelled “whip-poor-will,” and it is onomatopoeic; in other words, the name mimics the sound the bird makes. The whippoorwill is described as a death omen in some New England and Native American folktales, perhaps because of its eerie song.

Song Background Info About Eastern Whip-poor-will Vocalizations

Although not much is known about the Eastern Whip-poor-will’s (Caprimulgus vociferus) song, some studies have been done on its eerie refrain. The whip-poor-will has a variety of vocalizations that it makes including its eponymous whip-poor-will song, a call between mates sounding like quirt, a growl and hiss used in aggressive encounters, and a growl-cluck coupled with a non-vocal wing-clap used in courtship rituals, communicating with chicks when moving nests, and when during nest exchanges for a mating couple (Pitocchelli claims that there is no proof that whip-poor-wills living in four different counties in southeastern New Hampshire have different song styles (dialects) (Pitocchelli 1995b).

The male’s emphatic, chanted whip-poor-will, sometimes repeated for hours on end, is a classic sound of warm summer nights in the countryside of the In local music and literature, it frequently appears as East. A typical call creates a circular rhythm by emphasizing the first and last syllables (with a tremulous middle syllable) and then starting in on the next call right away. Males and females both give a short, sharp quirt to contact their mates or express agitation when a predator is near the nest. Additionally, they hiss and growl to deter predators and territorial intruders, respectively.