Eastern Whip-poor-will
(Antrostomus vociferus)

Summary

Picture of bird
© GK Peck
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Eastern Whip-poor-will is a crepuscular-nocturnal species of southeastern Canada's dry deciduous and mixed forests. The Breeding Bird Survey indicates that the species has experienced a large population decrease since about 1970. Because of these declines, the species was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada as Threatened in 2009 (COSEWIC 2009) and listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2011. Causes for the decline remain unclear, but likely stem from multiple sources. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

Designations

Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2009 
SARA (Canada)Threatened2011 
IUCN (Global)Near threatened2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseMediumBelow Acceptable Level
 

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults
 

Distribution maps

 

Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaLow

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-May and late May and ends in late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.
 

Conservation and management

In the 1980s, there was a negative change point in the Breeding Bird Survey population trends of swallows, swifts, and nightjars across most of North America (Smith et al. 2015). Indeed, the Eastern Whip-poor-will is one of several species of aerial-foraging insectivores showing widespread declines in Canada. Causes of these declines remain unclear, but possible changes in aerial insect populations have been suggested as one common factor as well as landscape changes, insecticides, and climate change (Blancher et al. 2009, Nebel et al. 2010). Specific to the Eastern Whip-poor-will in Ontario, where much of the breeding population occurs, declines may be attributable to long-term habitat loss due to intensive agriculture and natural forest succession (Mills 2007a). The species is also vulnerable to agricultural intensification and deforestation on the wintering grounds (Environment Canada 2015). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.

 

Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NB -- Other
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Other
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
 

References