Chuck-will's-widow and Summer Tanager in Fremont County

by Ross Silcock
County Map

Waubonsie State Park is located along Highway 2 about 5 miles east of I-29 in the bluffs of the Loess Hills. Drive in to the park on the short access road (SR 239), bear right, and park at the main parking area adjacent to the ranger's house. This area is good for Summer Tanager. You might have to walk south along the upper paved road (along a ridge) a short distance, or along an adjacent lower paved road to a picnic area. Most sightings, though, are within 200 yards of the main parking area. The song sounds like a fast robin song, and the call is a distinctive "pit-tuck-i-tuck" or "pit-tuck"

At dusk, return to Highway 2, turn left (west) and at the bottom of the hill, turn right (north) onto County Road L44. After about 1.3 miles, take a rock road to the right and go about a half mile to a gradual left curve. Chuck-will's-widows can usually be heard here and at other locations within the next half-mile or so. Calling usually starts at dusk. There are lots of Whip-poor-wills here too, but they're usually further away than the Chucks.

© Iowa Ornithologists' Union 2008