[singlepic id=118 w=350 float=left]Once I found the Whip-poor-will that was singing from an accessible location (see Whip-poor-will Pwips & Mystery Bird Sound), I went back several times to capture additional recordings of this wonderful song.
Little did I know what was in store for me. After setting up the mics and stringing the cable back to the truck, the Whip-poor-will started to sing before the recorder was started. Very shortly after initiating recording, the Whip-poor-will flew in closer and began to sing. At the same instant that he stopped singing a new call was heard. This call was lower in pitch and much quieter that the song. A rapidly repeated series of “gur-gur-gur-gur…” calls that seemed to drop slowly in pitch as the bird called. During this “gurring” there was the sound of the bird moving around slightly—was mating taking place during these calls? Was this “gurring” coming from the male or the female? There was no way to tell from my concealment.
It appears that there is little known about the vocal and breeding behavior of this species. What a wonderful opportunity for an industrious student of nature to add to our knowledge of these marvelous birds.
Here is the recording of the Whip-poor-will once he had flown in closer, from the quiet pwit notes, through the song and then the long series of gur calls:
Whip-poor-will song followed by a long series of gur-gur calls. Berkeley County, WV. May 4, 2010. ©Wil Hershberger.
Interestingly, the Chuck-will’s-widow has a similar vocalization. Here is a recording that Lang Elliott captured in the Wichita Mountains NWR in Oklahoma in 2000 on May 5 at about 3am. Notice how similar these aug-aug calls are to the gur-gur calls of the Whip-poor-will.
Chuck-will’s-widow song and aug-aug calls. Recorded in the Wichita Mountains NWR, Oklahoma. May 5, 2000 at 3am. ©Lang Elliott.