Bird not often seen: Whip-poor-will

Started Nov 19, 2019 | Photos thread
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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 33,825
Bird not often seen: Whip-poor-will

One of those birds more often heard than spotted - aside from being nighttime birds mostly sleeping during the day and usually in a well hidden spot, they also have excellent camouflage and rarely they're incredibly difficult to spot.

Over many years now of bird photography, I could still count on one hand the number of times I've encountered either a whip-poor-will or their very similar cousin, the chuck-will's-widow. In fact, with the whip-poor-will, I've only ever photographed one time, and the chuck-will's window two times.

But over the past month, my encounters with the whip-poor-will have gone up - I've gotten to see and photograph a whip-poor-will on each of the last three weekends - Nov 2nd, 10th, and again on the 16th. It's the same bird - but in the past when I've located one and gotten shots, they're gone by the following week. This one decided to hang out in the same vicinity for quite a while!

The first encounter was high up in a palm tree, having an afternoon nap on a frond.  No sun was reaching this fella - so had to crank up the ISO to shoot it. Eyes closed and not seeming to care at all about the photographer down below

One eye did peek open just a sliver, to check that there was no threats...apparently nothing was too concerning as the eye shut again just after

You'd think this was just slightly different light, taken at the same time...but no, this is a full week later!  Found in the same spot, though moved over slightly on the same frond.  And still sound asleep!

I figured that was lucky to find the whip twice...that was probably my last encounter for some time to come.  But this past weekend, while walking past a spot maybe 50 feet from this tree, lo-and-behold...

This time, down on the ground, blending in nicely with the branches and debris.  And this time, being only 9 feet away from where I'm standing, the eye opened to keep watch on the humans.  Note this is only 166mm on an APS-C crop's amazing you can get this close to such a secretive bird...and yes, that eye closed again and he went back to napping shortly after

So now, I lost my one-hand count for forest nightjars.  Two Chuck encounters and 4 Whip encounters.  Throw in a half-dozen common nighthawk sightings over the years, and the nightjars are climbing up my list of photographed birds.

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