Monday, April 2, 2012


One of the neatest events of the past year was an addition I made to my life bird list...I saw a pair of chuck-will's-widows in broad daylight!

As a backstory, I was a guest at a beach house in one of the uber-developed coastal areas of South Carolina--a gated community of 6-bedroom, grantite-countertopped, media-roomed vacation homes with BMWs parked outside. The community golf course guidelines had allowed for a certain amount of (well-monitored) natural area, so there were some nice walks among the live oaks to be had, and a number of wildish lagoons with alligators, herons, transient shorebirds and the like. A great proportion of my fellow co-vacationers are not particular nature fans, so I was quite often able to slip out by myself to drink in these joys in peace.

The first evening there, as we were nodding off in our beds with windows open to let in the delicious coastal breezes, I was elated to hear the not-so-subtle CHIP-widow-widows of pair of chuck-will's widows within spittin' distance of the house! I spent the first little while triangulating just where they might be, and fell asleep brainstorming my morning search for them. The next morning, breakfast was a tragicomedy of red-eyed city folks calling for the heads of whatever monster in the woods kept them up all night--when I told them all what it was, and briefly voiced how exciting it would be to see them, they were glad to hear long as I ran them off after the discovery :)
Lovies!!! Caprimulgus carolinensis. They don't build nests for their eggs--just incubate them on the ground. Pink with brown and lavender spots!

I accepted ma nature's challenge. Had I not heard the calls in a very specific, very small, area, these birds would have been impossible to see. Impeccably camouflaged, they sleep among fallen leaves in open spaces, and I was almost upon them before I made out one whiskered silhouette, then another.

Be vewwwy quiet....I'm hunting monsters :P
Needless to say--those beautiful critters got to stay right at home, no running off required. I spent a lovely couple of days stalking them as they slept, taking stealthy photos to prove that I saw real live goatsuckers!! It's true!!!
Oops...I got a little enthusiastic and spooked her. This is the smaller, darker female.