Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2008-12c

Common name:


Scientific name: Caprimulgus vociferus
Date: 6/19/08
Time: 1015 pm-1130 pm
Length of time observed: Heard almost constantly for ~1 hr
Number: 1
Age: unknown
Sex: Male
Location: Forest Service road turnaround/trailhead at the top of Green Canyon, just east of Logan, Utah.
County: Cache Co.
Latilong: na
Elevation: ~6200 feet/1900 meters
Distance to bird: Ranged from 20 m to 100 m.
Optical equipment: Optical equipment not used.
Weather: Slightly breezy, but not enough to interfere our ability to hear calling birds. While listening to the Whip-poor-will, we could also hear two distant Flammulated Owls and at least 1 Poorwill.
Light Conditions: Dark
Description:        Size of bird: na
(Description:)       Basic Shape: na
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: na
(Description:)            Bill Type: na
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Bird not seen.
Song or call & method of delivery: Three syllable song, "whip-poor-will", with an emphasis on the second syllable. Recordings made by Ryan O' Donnell and Ron Ryel.
Behavior: Bird vocalized almost continually the entire time, stopping only to change location, or occasionally pause.
Habitat: Open mixed decidous-coniferous forest.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
All species eliminated on basis of vocalizations.

Poorwill eliminated because of differences in song characteristics. Poorwills have three-syllable songs, but in most instances, only two syllables "poor" and "will" are heard. I have only heard the middle syllable of a Poorwill song on one occasion, (I was very close to the bird). We heard numerous Poorwills (10+?) throughout Green Canyon this evening, including one that was calling (but relatively distant) while we were listening to the Whip-poor-will. Also, to my ear, there is only a slight emphasis on the first syllable in the Poorwills song.

This bird had three syllable song, "whip-POOR-will", with an emphasis on the second syllable. First two notes seemed very burry, quite different from the Whip-poor-will songs that I heard when I was growing up in New York State, which had no burry quality in any of the syllables.

Chuck-will-widow eliminated because of differences in song characteristics. Chuck-will-widows have three-syllable songs, with all syllables audible, and a nearly equal emphasis on last two syllables, "chuck-WILL-WIDOW". Also no apparent prior records of Chuck-wills-widow for Utah.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Whip-poor-will: heard fairly often while spending first 10 yrs of birding "career" in upstate New York.
Poorwill: have heard and seen in Idaho and Utah.
Chuck-wills-widow: heard and seen at Fort Morgan, Alabama.
References consulted: None.
Description from: From memory
Observer: Craig R. Fosdick
Observer's address: PO Box 443, Logan, Utah, 84323-0443
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Ryan O'Donnell, Ron Ryel
Date prepared: 6/20/08
Additional material:  
Additional Comments: Bird located by Ron Ryel, who found Ryan and I also listening for owls and nightjars in Green Canyon, and led us back to the singing bird. Both Ryan O' Donnell and Ron Ryel recorded the Whip-poor-will's vocalizations.

It's worth noting that there is the possibility that we heard another birder playing a Whip-poor-will recording was considered. However, this seems very unlikely given that the bird moved several times, coming as close (neither Ryan nor Ron played the recorded song at the Whip-poor-will) as an estimated 20 m without any accompanying noise that would indicate the presence of a birder, such as sounds associated with crunching/snapping branches, footsteps. In contrast, all three of us were quite noisy whether walking on the gravel/dirt road or walking off the road into the vegetation to record the Whip-poor-will.