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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Probably that's a Chuck-will's-Widow, not a Whippoorwill

You probably don't see it, but it calls over and over and over and over and over and over. In much of the country that describes a Whippoorwill. But here in north Texas, that's almost certainly a Chuck-will's-Widow. They look somewhat similar, and both are in the Nightjar family.

Our Chuck-will's-Widow, however, has adapted to our environment.  It has a distinctive and persistent call - sounding much like its name.  It catches flying insects, like mosquitoes, with its huge mouth (2" across). Of course, if we kill most of the mosquitoes......

A hearty thanks to the powers-that-be where I live (Denton) for not spraying pesticides from airplanes on its citizens. West Nile Virus is certainly a bad thing for some people, but I have a very different view. 

To me, WNV is a plague that we, as humans, have brought on ourselves through our relentless destruction of bird habitat; places where birds can live. After all, a single bird c
an eat around 1000 mosquitoes per day (depending
on the species). So, having lots of birds around would take a big chunk out of WNV. 

Conversely, having fewer birds around means we have more mosquitoes. And more WNV. And if we kill the birds' food source, along with their habitat, we'll clearly have fewer birds. Many more people die each year in north Texas from asthma than from WNV, but many governments aren't taking drastic steps to curb its major irritant - air pollution.

Obviously I feel strongly about this, but I'll get off my soapbox now.

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