The Eastern Whip-poor-will (EWPW, Caprimulgus vociferus) has been declining across its range for decades. Habitat loss or maturation has been proposed as an important factor behind these declines, since EWPWs require a mix of open habitat for foraging and forested habitat for nesting. To better understand the potential effects of habitat management on Whip-poor-will populations in New Hampshire, detailed studies were initiated in two high density areas in 2008: Mast Yard State Forest and the Ossipee Pine Barrens. In 2008-10, Mast Yard supported an average of eight EWPW territories, with birds concentrated at the western and eastern portions of the study area. In the west, they used areas of thinned pine, recent clear cuts, and wetlands, while in the east they occupied areas of aspen regeneration, wetlands, and a power line corridor. The remainder of the site, which is dominated my mature pine, was completely unoccupied. In 2010, three birds occupied an area of mature forest that was unoccupied in previous years but which was selectively logged in the summer of 2009. This rapid colonization suggests that EWPWs can respond quite quickly to habitat management, at least wihin areas that already support a breeding population. Data collection improved at the Ossipee Pine Barrens in 2010, and the resulting territories are far more indicative of actual habitat use than those mapped in 2009. Interestingly, birds continue to avoid the most recently burned areas, suggesting that perhaps the understory is too sparse to serve as suitable nesting habitat.
Project Report: Whip-poor-will Territory Mapping at Two New Hampshire Sites