Whip-poor-will – Accepted

1. late Dec 1971–25 Mar 1972


Coronado SD



2-3. 28–29 Apr 1972


Lake Fulmor RIV










Figure 237. One of the state’s few records of a vagrant Whip-poor-will is of this first-fall bird, captured on 14 November 1970 at Pt. Loma in San Diego County. The record was published as involving eastern Caprimulgus vociferus vociferus (Craig 1971), but controversy remains about the bird’s subspecific identity (Pierre Devillers).







WHIP-POOR-WILL Caprimulgus vociferus Wilson, 1812

Accepted: 3 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: 1971 and 1972 records1

Not submitted/reviewed: NA

Large color image: see Figure

This nightjar occupies a wide and complex range. The highly migratory subspecies vociferus breeds across the East (excepting the Gulf coast region) and into southern Canada. These birds winter from South Carolina (rare) south along the Atlantic coast and Gulf coast (rare) to Costa Rica and occur casually in western Panama and Cuba. The arizonae group, considered a separate species by some, is resident throughout much of tropical Mexico, with northerly migratory populations in New Mexico and Arizona, southern Nevada, southern California, and southern Baja California Sur. The species’ extralimital records extend to southeastern Alaska, Vancouver Island, British Columbia (specimen, C. v. arizonae), southeastern Oregon (NAB 59:486), southern Alberta, southwestern Saskatchewan, western Montana, Colorado, and northern Baja California Sur (NAB 58:148).

California’s first Whip-poor-will, an individual documented by voice recording, was present from 2 May to 30 August 1968 near Lake Fulmor in the San Jacinto Mts. of Riverside County (Jones 1971a). Since then, birds have been found above Lake Fulmor almost every year. They are most reliably found in the San Bernardino Mts. (fide G. McCaskie) and have been recorded in California mountains north to Tulare County (e.g., Johnson and Garrett 1974, Garrett and Dunn 1981, Morlan and Erickson 1988). Nesting in the state is presumed but remains unconfirmed. Only records from 1971 and 1972 were reviewed.

Individuals near Julian, San Diego County, 8 July 1971 (“undoubtedly arizonae” per Unitt 2004), and at Ojai, Ventura County, 2 June 1976, were considered to be in “possible breeding areas,” although the latter area is at relatively low elevation and contains only “marginally suitable nesting habitat” (Garrett and Dunn 1981). Otherwise, vagrants have been recorded nine times, primarily along the coast, in southern and central California. Craig (1971) reported as C. v. vociferus a bird that was captured, measured, and photographed on 14 November 1970 at Pt. Loma in San Diego County (Figure 237), but Hubbard and Crossin (1974) challenged this identification, citing overlap in subspecies morphology. The remaining records of vagrants—per Garrett and Dunn (1981) unless otherwise cited—are from Coronado, San Diego County, late December 1971–25 March 1972; arizonae at Salton Sea NWR, Imperial County, 23 August 1975 (Patten et al. 2003, SBCM 30033); Riverside, Riverside County, 10–28 January 1976; arizonae at Belmont Shore, Los Angeles County, 26 September 1973 (Collins 1975, CSULB 4433); arizonae voice recorded in the Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles County, 6 March–1 April 1980 and 3 December 1980–23 February 1981 (AB 35:336); Goleta, Santa Barbara County, 2 November 1982 (Lehman 1994); arizonae seen and voice recorded near the Big Sur River mouth, Monterey County, 22–25 June 1996 (Roberson 2002); and Pt. Reyes, Marin County, 6 June 1986 (Morlan and Erickson 1988).

1On the review list 1972–1976


[WHITE-FRONTED SWIFT Cypseloides storeri Navarro et al., 1992 – see hypothetical section]