New York Natural Heritage Program
Chuck-will's-widow
Antrostomus carolinensis (Gmelin, 1789)
Birds

Threats [-]
Although Chuck-will's-widows occupy a few different habitat types on Long Island, all are subject to threats. Global climate change is a threat to this species, as the resulting sea-level rise is expected to reduce the availability of barrier beach habitat. The only known breeding population was noted to have vacated an area where stands of exotic Japanese black pines (Pinus thunbergii) on Long Island have not been maintained. Declines of this exotic tree species that provide habitat for Chuck-will's-widows, have likely contributed to the decline of the species elsewhere on Long Island (McGowan and Corwin 2008). Chuck-will's-widows natural pitch pine barrens habitat and coastal shrublands are also threatened by fragmentation and increasing urbanization on Long Island. Because the population exists in low numbers over a limited distribution with few nesting locations, it is also subject to random, or stochastic, environmental threats such as flooding, or random biological events such as a low year of productivity or high year of mortality due to disease. This species is also at risk of being struck by cars while landing on roads, especially dirt roads when dust-bathing at night. Also range overlap with Whip-poor-wills may cause some degree of competition for nesting sites and foraging opportunities, although there does appear to be separation of the two species by habitat; Chuck-will's-widows preferring more open locations and Whip-poor-wills more forested (Carrie et al. 2000, Cooper 1982). Declines in insect food sources due to pesticides and biological control are also a plausible concern.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Management for this species should consider the perpetuation and protection of native pitch pine barrens and coastal shrubland habitats on Long Island. Of particular importance, would be preventing further fragmentation of the pine barrens located in central-eastern Long Island. Because Chuck-will's-widows occur in so few locations in the state, best management practices may include maintaining Japanese black pines stands in some locations that are known to be occupied by Chuck-will's-widows, until sufficient natural habitats are available. Limiting development on barrier beaches, coastal shrublands and pine barrens will help ensure habitat remains on Long Island for this species in the future. The use of fire may be explored to perpetuate successional habitats and pine barrens but should be used with caution to maintain enough cover and foraging resources in occupied sites. Research into best management practices for this species is greatly needed.

Research Needs [-]
There are many gaps on the general biology, life history and demographic characteristics of Chuck-will's-widows throughout their range. Although molt characteristics, breeding and defensive behaviors and vocalizations have been well-documented most aspects needs further study (Straight and Cooper 2000). More information is needed on survival rates, fecundity, territory sizes, population sizes, diet, habitat requirements, threats limiting populations, and species response to changing landuse and climate (Straight and Cooper 2000). Due to this species' method of foraging over agricultural fields and pastures (Straight and Cooper 2000), research into toxin loads that could be accumulated from invertebrate prey sources are warranted. Further inventory and monitoring including demographic studies to determine nesting success are needed. These will be useful to determine long-term trends in survival, population size, and productivity. Studies on best mangement practices for this species are also greatly needed.