An investigation of Whip-poor-will activity, habitat use, and home range using radio telemetry within a managed landscape
The Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) is a nocturnal insectivore that is declining throughout many parts of its breeding range. Like several other Caprimulgid species, Whip-poor-wills have been suggested to utilize forested areas for nesting and open areas for foraging. The fact that Whip-poor-wills require resources that occur within distinctly different habitat types implies that their distribution and abundance may be influenced by the spatial association of required patches within a broader landscape. Within Weyerhaeuser forestlands in 1999 Wilson and Watts showed that Whip-poor-wills were detected within forest stands that were adjacent to plantations more frequently than forest stands adjacent to other forest stands. From a management perspective, this result suggests that targeted management should focus on a landscape scale and include the spatial and temporal orchestration of management activities. The objective of this study was to use radio telemetry to investigate the influence of landscape configuration and lunar illumination on home range size, activity patterns, and habitat use within a managed forest system. Twenty-seven Whip-poor-wills were fitted with radio transmitters and tracked in homogenous (forest stands bordered by other forest stands) and heterogeneous landscapes (forest stands bordered by open stands) of Weyerhaeuser’s J&W management tract. Home range size and activity patterns were shown to be similar between landscape types. The habitat composition of home ranges for Whip-poor-wills in heterogeneous landscapes was equally divided between forested and open stands. Overall, Whip-poorwills showed a strong tendency to use areas near forest openings such as open plantations and logging roads. The use of habitat openings present in both landscape types may be responsible, in part, for observed patterns of home range size and activity. Large habitat openings created by regeneration practices and extensive linear openings created by logging roads and row thinning appear to enhance landscape quality and provide Whip-poor-wills with foraging opportunities not likely present in non-managed forests.