[TN-Bird] more nightjars

  • From: Scott Somershoe <Scott.Somershoe@xxxxxx>
  • To: TN-Birds <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2012 17:03:54 +0000

I went out to scout more roads for nightjars last night in Wilson and some of 
Rutherford Co.  It got a little out of control and I stayed up way too late, 
but the weather was wonderful (chilly actually), the moon was very bright, and 
the birds were singing like crazy.  It was a wonderful night for June!

In the end, I made 62 stops over 35 miles or so and counted the following:
111 chuck-wills-widows
67 whip-poor-wills
5 common nighthawks
2 Barred owls (both Wilson Co.)
10+ yellow-breasted chats
several mockingbirds
2 yellow-billed cuckoos
3 Field Sparrows

I surveyed different roads from Sunday nights adventure and had some real hot 
spots (up to 10 different birds singing, sometimes with all 3 species) and some 
poor spots, but I had a nightjar at all but 3 stops (and those had loud dogs or 
excessive road noise).

The most exciting part was arriving at my starting place at Cedars of Lebanon 
State Park at 8:15 and seeing a Chuck-Wills-Widow flying over the road (Whips 
and Chucks were singing by 8:25 here, vs. 8:55 for my first bird singing on 
Sunday).  I stopped and got out, watched the bird fly around, it "croaked" at 
me a lot, spent time perched up for extended views, and then the mate came out 
of the woods and did the same thing.  One bird sat in the road and was jumping 
up for insects for a couple minutes as well.  I whistled their call and the one 
bird always responded aggressively, coming within 6 ft of me!  I watched these 
birds for about 20 min.  It was a really cool way to start the night.

I clearly need to establish some standard nightjar routes in this area.  At 
least I've scouted out all the roads in the area now and know where some routes 
could be placed.  If anyone is interested in helping or participating, please 
let me know.  We have ample opportunity to establish standardized routes for 
these counties as each county needs 2 routes and Wilson and Rutherford have 
zero.  Most other counties do not have routes, so there's ample opportunity 
across much of the state and you don't need to be out but for 2 hrs after dark.

Great night time birding!
Scott Somershoe

State Ornithologist
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204
615-781-6653 (office)
615-781-6654 (fax)

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  • » [TN-Bird] more nightjars - Scott Somershoe