Because its notes seem pretty plainly to articulate the words ivhip-poor-will; the first and last syllables being uttered with great emphasis, and the whole in about a second to each repetition; but when two or more males meet, their whip-poor-will altercations become much more rapid and incessant, as if each was straining to overpower or silence the other.
On or about the 25th of April, if the season be not uncommonly cold, the whip-poor-will is heard in Pennsylvania, in the evening, as the dusk of twilight commences ; or in the morning, as soon as the dawn has broke. The notes of this solitary bird, from the ideas which are naturally associated with them, seem like the voice of an old friend, and are listened to by almost all with great interest. At first they issue from some retired part of the woods, the glen, or mountain ; in a few evenings, perhaps, we hear them from the adjoining coppice, the garden fence, the road before the door, and even the roof of the dwelling-house, - hours after the family have retired to rest. Some of the more ignorant and superstitious consider this near approach as foreboding no good to the family, - nothing less than the sickness, misfortune, or death, of some of its members. Every morning and evening his shrill and rapid repetitions are heard from the adjoining woods ; and when two or more are calling at the same time, as is often the case in the pairing season, and at no great distance from each other, the noise, mingling with the echoes from the mountains, is really surprising. Strangers, in parts of the country where these birds are numerous, find it almost impossible for some time to sleep ; while, to those acquainted with them, the sound often serves as a lullaby, to assist their repose. Towards midnight they generally become silent, unless in clear moonlight, when they are heard with little interruption till morning. - Rennie.
This is one of the goat-suckers, which are chiefly American birds. The European species has been mentioned at p. 102. Besides the whip-poor-will, Wa-terton mentions four kinds that have each a peculiar set of notes. One utters, " Who are you, who, who, who are you ?
" another, " work away, work, work away ;" another, " Willy come go;" and another, a large bird, the size of the English wood-owl," Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha;" which sounds are uttered like a person in deep distress, - the departed voice of a night-murdered victim. The plaintive cries of all these are uttered throughout the night.