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Nightjar Research

After several successful years of monitoring efforts to quantifying this bird's distribution and abundance within the state, the project is expanding to examine significant knowledge gaps in several areas of this bird’s life history and breeding biology in Maine.


We know little to nothing about reproductive success, nest predation rates, and diet composition of whip-poor-will on their breeding grounds within Maine. We know even less about the migratory ecology of Maine’s whip-poor-wills, missing fundamental details on migratory timings, pathways, migratory connectivity, stopover locations, and potential threats.


This project aims to complement ongoing monitoring efforts to gather critically needed data in these areas of whip-poor-will ecology. Alongside our partners at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Biodiversity Research Institute, we are launching a pilot effort in 2024 to initiate both nesting ground surveys and movement studies in subregions within the state targeting Eastern whip-poor-will. These complementary research pursuits will generate a wealth of knowledge in several currently unknown aspects of Maine’s nightjar ecology to inform their management within the state.


Partners & Supporters

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Eastern Whip-poor-will outfitted with VHF nanotags during the 2023 pilot field season are on the move! Beginning in mid to late September, we started seeing detections of marked birds at Motus receiver stations throughout the eastern and midwestern United States. One bird, tagged in Kennebunk, Maine was last detected just a few hundred feet north of Rio Grande last week. We look forward to reviewing more detections in the weeks and months ahead! 

Click here to view detections on the Motus site.

Nest Monitoring

Story Map

Stay up to date on the latest project developments by visiting "Moondancers". This Story Map features photographs, nest camera footage, maps, and much more pertaining to our project. 

Our team field tested nightjar nest searching and monitoring methods during the 2023 pilot season, locating two whip-poor-will and one nighthawk nest. Nests were remotely monitored using "no glow" infrared trail cameras until fledging, after which vegetative assessments were conducted in accordance to standardized nightjar research methods. Expanded nest monitoring efforts will take place during the 2024 and 2025 field seasons.

Check out this compilation of wildlife observed at our nighthawk nest site in Hollis, Maine.

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