Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2008-12a

Common name:


Scientific name: Caprimulgus vociferus
Date: June 19, 2008
Time: approx 9:15 pm to 11:30 pm
Length of time observed: listened to calls for over 2 hours
Number: one
Age: adult
Sex: male
Location: upper end of road in Green Canyon, North Logan, UT (access from 1900 N)
County: Cache
Latilong: 3
Elevation: approx 6,200 ft
Distance to bird: 25-100 m
Optical equipment: none, recorded call with Sony TCM-59V cassette recorder (built-in microphone) on TDK cassette tapes; transferred to digital (.wav) using iPod and micromemo a/d converter.
Weather: clear, warm evening, no wind
Light Conditions: dark, no moon
Description:        Size of bird: bird not seen, only heard calling
(Description:)       Basic Shape:  "
(Description:)  Overall Pattern:  "
(Description:)            Bill Type:  "
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird was identified by its distinctive call. It was heard calling for over 2 hours and a recording was made that sufficiently captures the calling pattern. The call was first heard from an estimated distance of 100 m, but as time went on, the bird moving down slope to approx 25 m distance—sufficient for obtaining the recording.

The call was three parts: the first two were rather burry “whip or” followed by a clearer and more emphasized “will”. The call was given almost continuously during the period of observation, with brief pauses of 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, perhaps when the bird was moving. The call was more closely similar to the southwestern type than the eastern type, based on National Geographic recordings. A recording of the call is submitted with this record (.wav file). See under optical equipment for recording details.

No attempt was made to observe the bird due to the steep hillside and dense vegetation in which the bird was located. In addition, the call is much more distinctive at night than a poorly lighted observation.
Song or call & method of delivery: (see above)
Behavior: the bird called emphatically for over 2 hours and was still calling at 11:30 when I left the bird. The bird moved some during the period of observation (based on loudness of call), moving closer to my location.
Habitat: steep, southeast-facing canyon slope (20-25%) above dry creek bed with mixed vegetation (Douglas-fir, juniper, big-tooth maple, narrowleaf cottonwood, and rather rich herbaceous understory).
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The calls of this species are rather distinct. Other goatsuckers have somewhat similar calls but can easily be separated due to different quality and patterns of the call notes. Up to four poorwills were calling when I first found this bird. Their calls are much less rich, slower and more mournful. In addition, the third call note of the poorwill is often hard to hear, except at close range and is much unlike the accented and loud note of the whip-poor-will. Chuck-wills-widow has a more uniform calling pattern with the last two notes very similar, but different in emphasis. The burriness of the first two notes of the observed bird and the distinctively different third note are much unlike the chuck-wills widow.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have heard many (over 100) whip-poor-wills during my time in Michigan. In addition, I have heard similar numbers of poor-wills and a few chuck-will’s-widows.
References consulted: Sibley guides, National Geographic field guide cassette tapes
Description from: 1) Notes at time of sighting 2) Notes taken later 3) From memory and tape recording
Observer: Ron Ryel
Observer's address: 1649 N 1000 E
North Logan, UT 84341
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: I found the bird around 9:15 pm. Around 10:30 pm, I was able to take the following to the site while the bird was still calling: Ryan O’donnell, Craig Fosdick, and Stephanie Cobbold. Ryan has submitted an independent record (and recording).
Date prepared: June 20, 2008
Additional material: Photo? Drawing? Tape? Other: recording of calling bird (20080620 whippoorwill-part.wav)
Additional Comments: This record may be challenging to the current “first state record” guidelines. Hopefully, the recording will be sufficient documentation.