Featured, News

Whip-Poor-Will Call Reported

Whip-poor-wills are nocturnal and seldom ever seen. The repetitive chorus of “whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will” is sung by males in the late spring and early summer as dusk turns to darkness.

It is not uncommon to hear the song in early April or even before. It has, however, become increasingly rare to hear the whip-poor-will at all. The whip-poor-will population in West Virginia has dwindled in recent years due to factors such as habitat loss and pesticide usuage. The birds have been classified as “Near Threatened.”

On Thursday, March 28, Betsy Allen heard the distinctive call at the Ranch (Breeze Office) after several years of whip-poor-will silence. It may be a month or more (and maybe not at all) before the sound becomes a regular evening occurrance.

Thanks to the internet, anyone can hear the whip-poor-will’s call upon demand by searching “whip-poor-will song.”

The following poem by 19th century poet Ellen Allerton captures the human response to the call of the whip-poor-will.

The Whip-po-wil
by Ellen P. Allerton

When softly over field and town,
And over yonder wood-crowned hill,
The twilight drops its curtain down,
‘Tis then we hear the whip-po-wil.
From the near shadows sounds a call,
Clear in its accents, loud and shrill,
And from the orchard’s willow wall
Comes the faint answer, “Whip-po-wil.”
The night creeps on; the summer morn
Whitens the roof and lights the sill;
And still the bird repeats his tune,
His one refrain of “Whip-po-wil.”
We hear him not at morn or noon;
Where hides he then so dumb and still?
Where lurks he, waiting for the moon?
Who ever saw a whip-po-wil?
Where plies his mate her household care?
In what veiled nook, secure from ill,
Builds she the tiny cradle, where
Nestles the baby whip-po-wil?
I cannot tell, yet prize the more
The unseen bird, whose wild notes thrill
The evening gloom about my door,—
Still sweetly calling, “Whip-po-wil.”
Asleep through all the strong daylight,
While other birds so gayly trill;
Waking to cheer the lonely night,—
We love thee well, O whip-po-wil!

Please follow and like us: