Animals In Appalachia Appalachia

Listen to my Whippoorwill


dog barks at whippoorwill

We’ve had a whippoorwill hanging around our house since about mid May. It sends out its call just after dusky dark each night and just before dawn every morning like clockwork. The bird seems to start on one side of the house and then make its way to the other side usually ending somewhere very near the front porch.

Ruby Sue does not like the Whippoorwill. As soon as you hear the bird’s call you know what’s coming next: a fit of barking from a barky little dog.

I recorded the whippoorwill in the video below in 2012. I wonder if the one hanging around now is a descendant of the first bird.

Because of various songs and pieces of written word we often associate whippoorwills with being lonesome and sad. I’ve never found their whistling call lonesome. To me whippoorwills sound like they are calling out with an inquisitive hope that someone will answer them.


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  • Reply
    July 11, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Tipper, i love hearing all the beautiful birds sing in the morning, setting on my back porch drinking a cup of coffee. I have a little dog he is a (minpin) and boy does he get after the birds and squirrels. He’s getting old but don’t act like it at all. He’s 14 yrs old. We love so much.

  • Reply
    Nancy Stamey Eubanks
    June 17, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Your reference to the call of the whippoorwill makes me think of a song from the movie “Thunder Road!” Haven’t thought of that in a while!
    I love the call – it’s a lovely sound of my childhood, too, Ron.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    June 15, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    I love hearing the whippoorwill, thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 13, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Oh, thank you, Tipper! I wish we had whippoorwills in New Mexico! And — if I ever get another dog, her name will be Ruby Sue!!!!!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Such a fast call – our whippoorwills and chuck-wills have a much slower call.
    One of the lovely things about working in the gardens in the early morning or as dusk sets in is listening to the bird calls.

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    June 13, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I think Mr Whip is just trying to WAKE UP everyone, same as people do. I love all the bird calls and wish I knew which was which. I only know a few and can tell bluebirds from robins etc.
    I don’t hear the morning sounds often but In the late afternoon they all sure make a joyful noise out here.
    Ruby Sue is cute as a button.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Oh, that Ruby Sue!

  • Reply
    June 13, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    When we first moved to the area we live now we had an owl and whippoorwill also a covey of quail but the Gordon Terry Parkway came thru and they left.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 13, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I heard a whippoorwill’s call a couple of days ago at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Just one! I waited to see if I could hear it again but I didn’t. I heard many other bird calls but no more whippoorwill. As I sat listening to all the birds I noticed something strange. All the sounds seemed to be coming from the same direction. I had to move to see the source. There is was! A mockingbird sitting on the power line making all the calls. Eventually he flew away and the other birds resumed their calls. I guess they had stopped to listen just as I did. Alas, no more whippoorwill calls! At least that day.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    June 13, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Dear Tipper, I love the sound of a Whippoorwill. I don’t hear it nearly as often as I’d like. I also love to hear the owls. I often sit on the back porch as darkness falls, and it is so interesting to hear the birds settling down to sleep. I love the sounds of the country and your posts often remind me of the great blessings God has given me by allowing me to live where I do. Simple pleasures are the best and available to most everybody. Also, Ruby Sue is as cute as button!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 13, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Tell Cindy to peep out in the area where she is hearing the constant chip or chirp sound…It almost sounds like a constant warning bird sound…that can go on for quite a while, to the annoying point!
    What we have here is the puffy cheeked Chipmunk trying to gain control of the area under the feeder to fill those fat cheeks with sunflower seeds…also he is saying “Here I am, girls” see how cute I am with all these seeds in my cheeks as a wedding gift for you…Ha There are more reasona they do their chip/chirp too…but that would be fodder for later…Sometimes the noise ours make, even though it is a chirp/chip, can drive the birds to territorial calls high in the trees away from “Chippy”! ha They can be right rude with their mocking showoff noise!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    June 13, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Thanks for that beautiful Whippoorwill call, I use to hear ’em calling just around dark. But those blooming coyotes, foxes, and wild cats have about made ’em disappear. That’s the same with all the pheasants, almost gone.
    One time I was sneaking up on some deer and nearly stepped on a pheasant, I almost had a spasm when that sucker took off. …Ken

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 13, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Loved your post today. I wonder if anyone has ever noticed. Years ago it seems that I remember the Whip-poor-will call that would began at dusk was only a lone call whip-poor or whip- followed by a full whip-poor-will…then only a few full calls. Almost if the bird was interrupted or distracted by something. I remember waiting for the next call, actually as I did when I heard my first bird a few weeks back…They as you know are heavy moth feeders and night bug feeders.
    I have determined that the bird was just starting to feed and hadn’t settled on his perch to give a whip-poor-will musical score until complete darkness.
    I read that a whip-poor-will was captured and it was banded four years previously. Making it the longest lived banded whip-poor-will….
    So maybe your bird that is calling now could be the same bird that may have lived five years…making your bird older….Just a thought to ponder!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    June 13, 2017 at 9:06 am

    The whipperwill was a dreaded sound when I was growing up in those lonesome mountains of Eastern Ky. It was so dark and quiet at night, making their call loud and clear and making me so sad I could cry. Those songwriters must have grown up in a lonesome environment as well or they would have never been able to put that much emotion into words.

  • Reply
    Roger Greene
    June 13, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Several years ago a whippoorwill selected the ridge on the second story of our house as his strutting area. My daughters were young, and enjoyed going out and watching it backlit by the setting sun.
    Every evening that spring it would fly up to the ridge and spend 30 to 45 minutes strutting back and forth from one gable to the other calling. Then it would return in the morning just before sun up for about the same period of time. This went on for a few weeks until the birds nested.
    We now have more neighbors and less whippoorwills. I’d be willing to trade back!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    June 13, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I haven’t heard a whippoorwill around here lately but I would love to hear one. We do have an owl that serenades us though and we love to hear it say, “whoo, whoo, who cooks for you?”
    Ruby Sue looks like she is always on guard. We had a Dacshund that was the same way. He would go nuts at the sound of car doors closing, garage door openings and door bells. His perch was on the back of my chair so he could look out of the window constantly scanning the yard for intruders. His arch enemy was the squirrels and he would go ballistic when one was in sight.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 13, 2017 at 8:09 am

    I expect it is nesting nearby. I am a bit envious because the call of a whippoorwill is associated with good childhood memories. Like you, I do not consider it sad.
    I just checked the range map and the summer breeding range in Georgia appears to be just the mountains. That is just north of me.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 13, 2017 at 7:53 am

    I love listening to their call. I do not find it sad either.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 13, 2017 at 5:52 am

    I recognize the greenhouse there in your back yard. I’m with Ruby Sue, I don’t like noises. As a matter of fact I have a bird chirping outside as I type this….I’d just as soon he went somewhere else! He is not a whippoorwill but some other noisy bird. He’s been with me for several days now, just before daybreak and at dark.

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