A Travellerspoint blog

Willing up a Whip-poor-will

Plum Creek Forest Preserve, IL

overcast 39 °F

This evening, Isoo O’Brien and I headed to Plum Creek Forest Preserve in Sauk Village, IL (the southeastern tip of Cook County) to try for a very hard-to-get county bird: Eastern Whip-poor-will. These denizens of summertime evenings are common out in the boonies of Illinois and surrounding states, but very hard to come by here given limited available habitat in Cook County.

We started off by checking a few fluddles in the area for shorebirds; I didn’t have anything of note at Lansing Municipal Airport apart from a singing NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD. And in other fluddles, I saw a single SAVANNAH SPARROW:

But there were only few shorebirds which consisted of the common KILLDEER:

And some distant LESSER YELLOWLEGS:

So, with the dwindling evening light, it was soon time to head to Plum Creek to try for the Whip. Upon parking outside the play meadow, Isoo and I walked in a little ways and starting playing its call. Our hopes were not high given that it was a cold and windy night, but we wanted to try anyway given the amazing habitat potential for this species at Plum Creek (a wonderful mosaic of woodland and openland which Whip-poor-wills tend to go for).

While waiting, we identified a number of other birds by sound in the nighttime, including HENSLOW’S SPARROW, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, CANADA GOOSE, EASTERN TOWHEE, and possibly a Solitary Sandpiper.

Then, we heard it! A lonely EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL piped back in response to one of Isoo’s rounds of calls and we just about danced for joy, leaping into the air and running toward the general vicinity of the bird. It called twice more, including once where I captured it quite nicely on an audio recording which can be heard at this link! It was the classic Whip song, singing its name over and over again in hopes of deterring potential rivals and attracting a mate. Boy, would it be cool if this species bred at Plum Creek this year! I highly encourage you to have a listen to my recording, I am pretty proud of its clarity!

AMAZING! My bird-of-the-day of course is the Eastern Whip-poor-will with runner-up to the Henslow’s Sparrow. A great night out!

Good birding,
World Life List: 1114 Species

Posted by skwclar 20:50 Archived in USA

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