Old forests in the Ozarks Mountain Country, where the Little Red Bear stories take place, are home to Eastern Whip-poor-wills, one of my favorite birds. Strictly nocturnal and calling all thru the night, they have serenaded me to sleep on camping trips on many occasions.
While you may hear the Whip-poor-wills thru the night, finding them in the daylight hours is very difficult as they are largely inactive, hiding on the ground or roosting in the trees. Their mottled plumage blends perfectly with the grey/brown leaf litter and forest debris where they live, a natural camouflage.
A medium sized bird, the Eastern Whip-poor-will is a member of the Nightjar family of birds, sometimes referred to as Goatsuckers from ancient tales that they sucked milk from goats. Also in the nightjar family is the Nighthawk, another nocturnal bird, along with another and one the Whip-poor-will is frequently mistaken for– its close relative the Chuck-will’s-widow, which has a similar but lower, slower call. Both calls are hauntingly beautiful on an otherwise quiet summer night in the woods.
Whip-poor-wills are mentioned frequently in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, with “Whistlin’ Will” being one of Red’s friends, singing right behind his cabin on Honey Hill each evening.
Here is a recording for you to listen to the beautiful call of the Whip-poor-will. Like the recording, they go on and on, tirelessly all thru the night, a calming reassurance that all is right in the woods. Do you hear the “whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will” call for which they were named?
Sadly, as with many species, their numbers are in decline in several areas as open forests are converted for suburbs and agriculture, and as their primary foods- large moths and beetles- are also on the decline due to development.
If you would like to read more about Whistlin’ Will in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection, it is available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback. Just click the link below.
Thanks as always for reading and following! — Jim (and Red!)