Species at Risk

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Eastern Whip-poor-will

(Antrostomus vociferous, or Caprimulgus vociferus)

Status in Canada: Threatened

Status in Ontario: Threatened

Status at SWCR: Common breeding bird

It is hard to spot this medium-sized songbird because it nests on the ground and has excellent camouflage.

Quick Facts:

  • It eats nocturnal insects and is most active at dusk and dawn.
  • It breeds at both the Nursery and Turkey point tracts at the SWCR.
  • The breeding populations at the SWCR are among the last remaining strongholds for this species in southwestern Ontario.
  • Ground nests are very hard to spot, and are often near trails or open areas such as fields or wetlands.

Threats at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve:

Road Mortality: these birds often rest on the ground near roads and trails, and they can be hit by vehicles, especially at night.

Habitat Loss/degradation: related to natural succession and fire suppression.

Activities that can increase road mortality or damage critical Eastern Whip-poor-will habitat include:

  1. Unauthorized road and trail use, or off-trail ATV use, that can kill whip-poor-wills nesting on the ground in open areas, along trails, and by roads.
  2. Activities that can introduce or encourage the growth of invasive plants, such as dumping of garden waste and off-trail ATV use.
  3. Activities that interfere with understory shrubs, unauthorized plant collecting and off-trail ATV use.

St. Williams Conservation Reserve management practices:

  • Population monitoring
  • Forest thinning activities
  • Invasive plant control
  • Enforcement of unauthorized trail use
  • Prescribed burns

What you can do to help:

  • Follow the  code of conduct for recreational activities in the Conservation Reserve and know and respect the current trail-use regulations.
  • Report sightings to the SWCR CCBird Studies Canada  (www.ebird.ca  or 1-888-448-2473), or the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
  • Report unauthorized trail use or any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).

More information:

Species At Risk Public Registry Profile

Ontario Species at Risk Profile

Funding for this project was provided through the Species At Risk Stewardship Fund