Ontario Whip-poor-will Project

Eastern Whip-poor-will populations in Ontario and elsewhere have declined. As a result, this species is now designated as a threatened species in Canada (COSEWIC 2009, SARA 2011) and Ontario (SARO 2009). The causes of the Whip-poor-will population declines are unknown, but habitat change is presumed to be the main threat. In addition, changes in food supply have been identified as a potential common factor driving population declines in many diverse species of aerial-foraging insectivorous birds. Increased mortality due to vehicle collisions and nest predation by feral cats and raccoons are also of concern for Eastern Whip-poor-wills.

The Ontario Whip-poor-will Project was launched by Bird Studies Canada in 2010 to investigate where in Ontario whip-poor-wills still occur, and to identify those areas that are hotspots for this species. During this project, hundreds of volunteers provided information on the locations of hundreds of whip-poor-wills, giving us a much better picture of their current distribution and abundance. The results of these surveys are being used to direct research into the larger question of what is happening to Ontario's whip-poor-will populations. A summary report on this project will be available in fall 2014.

Although data collection for the Ontario Whip-poor-will Project is now complete, we are still encouraging volunteers to listen for whip-poor-wills in suitable habitat, and to report their observations so that this location information can be used to help conserve this threatened species. The best time for hearing the iconic call of the Eastern Whip-poor-will is on a bright moonlight night, especially during the period leading up to the full moon in June. Whip-poor-wills also call at dusk or dawn most days throughout the breeding season, provided the weather isnt horrid.

More information, including instructions for submitting whip-poor-will observations and for conducting roadside surveys this species, is available at: www.birdscanada.org/birdmon/wpwi.


Kathy Jones, Volunteer Coordinator, volunteer@birdscanada.org, 1-888-448-2473 ext. 124

Audrey Heagy, Ontario Whip-poor-will Project Coordinator, aheagy@birdscanada.org, 1-888-448-2473 ext. 166

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