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Whip poor Will, the Whip-Poor-Will

Have you ever met a Whip-poor-will? Introduced to Peter Rabbit as one of Boomer the Common Nighthawk’s cousins, “Whip-poor-will has just the same kind of big mouth and he is dressed very much like Boomer, save that there are no white patches on his wings.” (Thornton W. Burgess, The Burgess Bird Book for Children, Living Books Press Edition, p.117).

Peter Rabbit recognizes Whip-poor-will very easily because he is often driven crazy by his song, “That voice of his goes through me so that I want to stop both ears. There isn’t a person of my acquaintance who can say a thing over and over, over and over, so many times without stopping for breath.” (Burgess, Bird Book, p.117). They are very easy to hear but quite hard to spot as they blend in so easily with the forest floor. Take a listen to the call that Peter is referring to, can you see why it’s called the Whip-poor-will?:

American Bird Conservancy

The other thing that Jenny Wren remarks on in regards to Whip-poor-will’s appearance are his whiskers! Allaboutbirds notes that “at dawn and dusk, and on moonlit nights, they sally out from perches to sweep up insects in their cavernous mouths.” (source). Jenny Wren guesses that his whiskers help him to catch insects during these times after they get tangled up in them.

Here is one more video of a Whip-poor-will’s threat display as a chipmunk comes towards it (the chipmunk is out of the shot). What about this display would seem threatening to you if you were a small rodent on the forest floor?:

Stoil Ivanov

Here are some of the things we gathered about this really interesting bird:

Until next time, keep birding! <3 Kate

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