New York State Ornithological Association

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ConservationUpdated 1/20/10
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NYSOA to Launch New York State Whip-poor-will Monitoring Program
by Matthew Medler
Published in the April 2007
issue of NY Birders
UPDATED 1/20/10

Results from the second New York State Breeding Bird Atlas suggest dramatic decreases in breeding Whip-poor-wills in New York State since the 1980s.  Such declines are consistent with Atlas results and anecdotal evidence from neighboring  states and provinces.  As a result, a Northeast Nightjar Monitoring program was established in 2005 to begin collecting population information for these poorly-known birds.

This year, the New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) will be organizing Whip-poor-will monitoring efforts in our state, as part of the coordinated effort throughout the northeast.

There will be two major goals for the NYSOA monitoring efforts this year:  to conduct 30+ random survey routes in areas with Whip-poor-will concentrations during the first and/or second Atlases; and to conduct targeted monitoring at known Whip-poor-will hotspots, such as pine barrens sites. 

Participating in the Whip-poor-will monitoring effort is both easy and fun.  Volunteers spend one moonlit evening in late May or early June passively listening for Whip-poor-wills at ten points along an established roadside survey route. 

2007 Results

In 2007, NYSOA's first year of organizing Whip-poor-will surveys in New York State, more than 70 volunteers conducted 34 random-route surveys as well as additional monitoring in several known Whip-poor-will hotspots. Thanks to these efforts, the project had excellent geographical coverage in northern and eastern New York, with random routes surveyed in 21 counties around the Adirondacks and in the Hudson Valley region.

The combined results of the random surveys, hotspot monitoring, and casual observations paint a picture of a species that is scarcely distributed throughout much of its New York State range, occurs in higher densities in northern New York, and is abundant in a few hotspots. Whip-poor-wills were detected on nine of the 34 random routes conducted. Two-thirds of these nine positive routes were located in the North Country counties of Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Clinton, and Essex, while only one-third of the total routes surveyed were in this region.

Whip-poor-will hotspot surveys in New York, 2007

Other Nightjars
Albany Pine Bush
Pitch Pine
Connetquot River State Park
Pitch Pine
Fort Drum
Common Nighthawk
Gadway Sandstone Pavement Barrens
Jack Pine
Common Nighthawk
Jefferson County Alvar Communities
35, 29
Rocky Point NRMA
Pitch Pine
Common Nighthawk

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