In the Randy Travis song, “Deeper Than the Holler,” the country crooner uses natural phenomena to describe how grand is his love for his significant other. In the final line of the refrain, the lover says he will love the beloved “longer than the song of the Whip-poor-will,” which leads us to this week’s Gift of Bird Watching: the Eastern whip-poor-will.
The whippoorwill is a bird of the forest that is extremely difficult to see because of its superb camouflage. However, they are easy to locate it by their call, “Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will” which, as the country song suggests, will repeat for hours.
This bird belongs to a family of birds known historically as the goat suckers. The rumor was that their wide mouths allowed them to drink livestock dry during the night, but in fact, their wide mouths are used for catching insects.
In Dallas County, the Eastern whippoorwill can be found at the Voas Nature Area near Minburn and the Kuehn Conservation Area near Redfield on warm summer nights.
Learn more about the Eastern Whip-poor-will at the AllAboutBirds website.
Mike Havlik is a naturalist with the Dallas County Conservation Department.