Biologists seek help finding whip-poor-wills in W.Va.

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Illustration of Whip-poor-will
Illustration of Whip-poor-will from New York State Museum

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is seeking public help in locating whip-poor-wills, rural songbirds that may be on the decline in West Virginia and in adjacent states. According to Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section for the division, biologists are asking observers to report any and all encounters with Antrostomus vociferus between May 10 and July 31.

“Recent breeding bird survey data indicate significant population declines of this bird in nearby states and your observations will enable us to get a better sense of their population status in West Virginia,” Bailey said in a May 6 announcement.

“If you see or hear whip-poor-wills in West Virginia between the dates of May 10 and July 31, 2014, please email DNR Wildlife Resources Section biologist Rich Bailey at richard.s.bailey@wv.gov. Include the date and location, being very specific — where you saw or heard the bird, your name and phone number, and whether you saw or heard the bird.”

The whip-poor-will is a gray, black, and brown bird with a black throat. It is well-camouflaged and is easier to hear than to see, Taylor said. Its namesake song is a loud, rhythmic “whip-poor-will,” which it sings repeatedly at night.

Section biologists are also interested in discovering locations of barn owls and bald eagle nests. Anyone who sees or hears either of these species is asked to email Bailey with the same information as for the whip-poor-will, Taylor said. Barn owls have a distinctive white, heart-shaped face and a variety of unique calls, including clicks, hisses, grunts, and screams.

Read also: Five birds to watch for this summer in West Virginia

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