Last night two different birds-of-the-night became for a few moments my
close companions as I was out listening for just such birds.
While the last clouds of the showery day gave way to clear sky and
crescent moon low to the west, I went to the well known Whip-poor-will
site on Snake Mountain Road in Weybridge continuing to document the
species right up to their departure for the year. I heard the first
song begin right on schedule at 7:55pm, four minutes before the end of
Civil Twilight from the up the hill west of the road somewhat to the
northwest. At 8:02pm, 4 minutes after the end of Civil Twilight Bird #2
suddenly out of nowhere raucously joined the vocalizations, causing me
to jump in surprise from unexpected and really loud "quirt" greeting
calls not more than six feet from me on a low branch of a roadside tree!
These calls continued for nearly three minutes becoming softer and
softer till they were gentle cooings. During this time the bird stayed
right beside me, head-high on the near branch.
A car then approached and passed by. Singing on the hill slope never
stopped but the second bird was not heard again. I then began to troll
slowly northward by car and heard one additional singing bird on the
west side of the road at 0.74 miles north of Forrest Road, a known
location. Continued trolling produced no additional whip-poor-wills.
While over the years I've regularly heard nearby singers and callers,
and had them land silently at my feet or nearby, never was one so close,
so loud, and so talkative. Perhaps a behavior in anticipation of a soon
departure to a wintering location?
Then, this morning at home on Snake Mountain 1.5 miles south of the
Whip-poor-will site, just after the beginning of Astronomical Twilight I
was out listening for owls. Stars above, fog around, fog drops from tree
leaves pretending to be drizzle. At 4:44am, at the very instant two
Barred Owls began at different pitches, loudly counter-singing "Who
cooks for you" songs from woods up behind our house, an Eastern Screech
Owl gave three aggressive, agitation squawk calls from a perch by the
barn no more than 20-25 feet from me. The Screech Owl then continued
with trilling while the counter-singing Barred Owls carried on for
several minutes, all three birds filling the silence of the mountain
with song. Trilling that close is louder than one might think from such
a small owl we normally hear far in the distance.