WHIPPOORWILL

By: SHANNON QUINLAN

Caprimulgus vociferus

 

TAXONOMY

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Caprimulgiforms

Family: Caprimulgidae

Genus: Caprimulgus

Species: vociferus

 

Diet and Feeding Habits

Diet :

-adults: Adult whippoorwills are carnivores. They enjoy eating insects like moths, flies, gnats, Dragon flies, beetles, and cicadas.

-young: The young eat regurgitated food from the parents and passing insects.

Predators :

The whippoorwills need to fear the bobcat, the mountain lion, and foxes. They also are in competition with humans for resources such as water, land, and trees. Humans are encroaching upon them.

Food web :

The whippoorwill is a 2 nd level consumer. Their prey is mostly insects and all meat.

 

 

 

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

You may be walking in the woods and never see a Whippoorwill. They are around you but since they are so camouflaged they blend in. The reason they match their surroundings is for safety and protection from any predators. The whippoorwill is spotted brown to look like bark or leaves. The white band on the throat is to match sun coming through the trees.

Have you ever felt really hot in the summer? Birds feel that, too. The whippoorwill pants to keep cool. Since the bird can regulate its temperature it is a warm-blooded animal. Those are only some of the adaptations they have made for surviving.

The structure of the bird is not so complex. The whippoorwill has large eyes. The eyes are not to dazzle you but they are used to see at night when they are hunting insects. The wingspan is 18 to 19 inches and is used to fly away from predators. This is twice the size of the length of the bird. The whippoorwill is a very small bird of only 9.75 inches long and weigh up to 1.9 oz.. These birds have a backbone so they are called vertebrates. With a lot of species of birds there is a big difference between male and female, not with the whippoorwill. The only difference is that the males beak is wider than the females beak. This does not have a lot of affect for the survival of the bird. I am sure you have seen a baby bird and it is all fuzzy. Those soft feathers are the feathers that will fall out when the bird gets older. Another difference between adult and young is the ability to fly. The young have not yet developed the proper structure to fly.

 

HABITAT

You can find a Whippoorwill near a deciduous forest, preferably near a clearing or meadow because that is where they hunt the insects at night. Those qualities might be right in your backyard. Climbing a mountain or hill? Whippoorwills live at an altitude of about 1659 to 3300 feet. The whippoorwill is nocturnal so you would need to be taking a night walk to see one. They are happiest in an arid to semi-arid destination.

You can find these wonderful birds in Mexico, the watershed or even Southwest Canada. They migrate in search of more food supply and warmer weather to live in during the winter. Once the temp hits about 38 degrees they migrate to the southern US or Central America. They migrate in search of more abundant food supply and warmer weather to live in during the winter.

Since these birds are nocturnal, during the day they would like to be in the shade because of protection from the trees. Whippoorwills need leaves in their habitat because they make the leaves into a nest on the ground. The population of Whippoorwills is going down due to loss of habitat from human development so make sure you help the Whippoorwills by being conscious of their living conditions.

NATURAL HISTORY

Have you ever been walking thought the woods and all you hear are birds? You might hear one bird in particular. This bird is singing whip-poor-will…whip-poor-will. The Whippoorwill is singing its name. It can do that for over 400 times without stopping.

The Whippoorwill calls for its mate. The breeding season is from March to September. When the bird finds its mate the pair goes through internal fertilization. The female will then lay 2 cream colored eggs in her nest on the ground. This nest is made of leaves from the forest floor. The shell of bird eggs are harder then reptile egg shells because the birds keep the eggs warm by sitting on them. Both the parents of the eggs will take turns, protecting and incubating them for 19 through 24 days. If a predator decides that the eggs look tasty the female will hiss at the approaching enemy. Once the eggs are hatched, the hatchlings will imprint on the mother. Once the babies grow to 10 months old they will start mating as well.

It is said in many books and writings, started by Native Americans, that the whippoorwill can sense a soul departing and capture it as it leaves. This might be because of the birds call. Do you believe the legend?

Birds have many adaptations. One of which being its legs. They use the legs to push off the ground and into flight. Another thing that helps them fly is the large chest bone. The feathers that cover the body are told to most likely have evolved from scales like on reptiles.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barnard, Edward S. Ed. North American Birds. New York : Philippe, 1998

 Jenner, Jan. Science Explorer Animals. New Jersey : Prentice-Hall Inc. , 2002

 Sibley, David. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds. New Your: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003

 “ Whip-poor-will”. 2003. Cornell Lab of ornithology. 7:27 , March 5 th , 2007 . http://www.birds.cornell.edu/allaboutbirds/birdgiude/whip-poor-will_dtl.html

“Whippoorwills” Int. Wildlife encyclopedia. Vol.14. New York : Marshall Cavendish, 2002. Pages 2012-2013

“ Whippoorwill”. 03:19 , march 3 rd, 2007. Wikipedia. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/whip-poor-will

 

 

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