Publication Details

Breeding Habitat Associations of Eastern Whip‐Poor‐Wills in Managed Forests

Publication Toolbox

  • Download PDF (468.0 KB)
  • This publication is available only online.
Spiller, Kimberly J.; King, David I

Year Published



The Journal of Wildlife Management


Populations of the eastern whip‐poor‐will (Antrostomus vociferus; whip‐poor‐will) have declined throughout most of its range, making it a species of high conservation concern in nearly every state and province where it occurs. Researchers have reported whip‐poor‐wills are associated with forest stands with open canopies, and thus silviculture may be a promising means for promoting their populations, yet the ecological literature does not quantify fine‐scale habitat relationships capable of assisting with silviculture prescriptions. Our objective was to quantify the associations between whip‐poor‐wills, canopy openness, and other vegetation characteristics to provide managers with guidance for whip‐poor‐will management. Based on prior research, we hypothesized that whippoor‐ wills may be associated with intermediate levels of canopy retention and that their numbers would also be affected by understory characteristics. We surveyed whip‐poor‐wills with point counts in managed forest at the Fort Drum Army installation in New York, USA, during 2015 and 2016 and collected vegetation measurements at each point count location to relate whip‐poor‐will occupancy with vegetation structure and composition. Whip‐poor‐will occupancy was strongly related to intermediate levels of basal area, with peak occupancy at 13.8 m2/ha, a value that corresponds to forest denser than most shrublands but more open than closed‐canopy forest. Whip‐poor‐will presence was negatively related to understory height, which is consistent with prior studies. These findings provide managers with quantitative targets that can be used to increase or maintain whip‐poor‐will numbers and abundance of other disturbance‐associated species similarly unable to persist in unmanaged forests stands.


Antrostomus vociferus; conservation; disturbance; management; point count


Spiller, Kimberly J.; King, David I. 2021. Breeding Habitat Associations of Eastern Whip‐Poor‐Wills in Managed Forests. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 29: 407-.

Last updated on: July 23, 2021