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Poorwills at Night

A bird that says its own name! Over and over and over....

Close kin to the Whip-poor-will, the nocturnal Poorwill can be heard in summer in canyons at the deep end of dusk. And the Common Poorwill's greatest claim to fame? It was the first bird confirmed to hibernate, based on evidence verified in 1946. Since then, we have learned that Lewis and Clark, in 1804, found a hibernating poorwill. And that for centuries, the Hopi Indians have called the poorwill "holchko" or "the sleeping one." Share this show with a friend! Click one of the Share this Story icons above.

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Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Poorwills at Night

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!

[Common Poorwill calls amidst the sound of crickets]

Ralph Hoffman began his account of the Common Poorwill, 80 years ago: “When a traveler in summer has made camp, and is lying on his blankets watching some favorite star, the first faint “poor-will” floats across from the opposite hillside. [Common Poorwill call, several times] The bird seems like a disembodied spirit, and it is with surprise that we come upon one in the dusk, sitting in the trail or making short leaps into the air in pursuit of insects.” [Common Poorwill calls]

The Common Poorwill of the West is close kin to the larger, more familiar Whip-poor-will, east of the Great Plains. Its capacious mouth is rimmed with sensitive bristles, ideal for capturing insects. [Common Poorwill calls]

In summer, in the West, Poorwills call from canyons at the deep end of dusk.

And the Common Poorwill’s greatest claim to fame? It was the first bird confirmed to hibernate, based on evidence verified in 1946. Since then, we’ve learned that Lewis and Clark, in 1804, happened upon a hibernating poorwill. And that for centuries the Hopi Indians have called the poorwill, holchko, or “the sleeping one.” [Common Poorwill calls]

Do you know someone who might enjoy today’s show? Send it to them from our website, birdnote.org. I’m Michael Stein.

###

Audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Common Poorwill recorded by G.A. Keller. Field ambient recorded by N. Tucker.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org      July 2017     Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# 071807COPOKPLU     COPO-01b-2009-07-27-MS-

Reference cited: Hoffman, Ralph. Birds of the Pacific States. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1927, p. 172.
See also www.jaeger.ws/poorwill/poor_deddleman.html: Eddleman, Douglas. “Fifty Years Ago Today In Riverside County: The Hibernating Poorwill”

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