Skip Navigation

'Patch Clear-Cut' Brings New Whippoorwills

A great way to create new habitat and areas for a variety of species is to make openings in larger areas of woodland then allow them to grow back into young saplings and other woody vegetation.  These openings, called "patch clear-cuts", are a relatively new practice to the conservation scene and NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in Kentucky.  Through the EQIP program, landowners can apply for funding to create wildlife-friendly openings (patches) in larger tracts of forest.  In western Kentucky, this practice is being utilized to rejuvenate and enrich some large, aging pine plantings.  This provides a mixture of young and old forests which will benefit a larger group of wildlife species. Many species this type of management promotes include wildlife that have been in danger of losing habitat, causing a growing concern for managers.  These species, known as early successional species, are ones that many of us are familiar with such as northern bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbits and woodcock. Songbirds, wild turkey and many, many other species use this type of habitat. Wildlife species use these areas to raise their young or to escape from predators. Forest management efforts aimed at creating and enhancing early successional habitat for other young forest species of conservation concern, such as Golden-winged Warbler and American Woodcock, may benefit Eastern Whip-poor-will as well. Whip-poor-wills often can be found along game land and forest roads which provide a break in the tree canopy where the nightjars can forage for aerial insects.

Recently while around one of these new patch clear-cuts in Livingston County, NRCS and KDFWR employees were fortunate enough to flush up anWhippoorwill eastern whippoorwill hen.  After some investigation, a nest was found nearby with these 2 chicks (left) just a few steps away. 

It is thought that whippoorwills time their egg laying so that the eggs hatch approximately 10 days prior to a full moon in order for the chicks and hen to optimize their night time foraging for insects.  Surprisingly, this nest and chicks were found on Wednesday and a full moon appeared the following Tuesday.

Whippoorwill populations are declining in Kentucky, but not as steeply as in many neighboring states.  Problems that these nocturnal birds face are lack of forest   management, thick stands and development and conversion of forestland to cropland or pasture.  For the wildlife enthusiastic, take time to consider an increased management level for your woodlands and contact your local Farm Bill biologist or NRCS office to see if you are eligible to participate in EQIP or other Farm Bill programs.