The chuck-will’s-widow, like all nightjars, is nocturnal and most active on moonlit nights. Because of this and its cryptic coloration, chuck-will’s-widows are difficult to study, and few systematic investigations of their habitat, demography, or population status have been conducted. The majority of information on chuck-will’s-widows is anecdotal and coincident to investigations on other species (Straight and Cooper 2000).
Chuck-will’s-widows occur in woodland habitats interspersed by large openings in which birds forage at night. Calling males are equally abundant among suburban, pasture, and forested landscapes (Cooper 1981). Urban habitats are unsuitable (Straight and Cooper 2000). Chuck-will’s-widows prefer more open habitats than whip-poor-wills (Cooper 1981) and are unaffected by forest fragmentation (they may even benefit from it). Drier sites are preferred as well.
The first suitability function combines landform, landcover, and successional age class into a single matrix (SI1) that defines unique combinations of these classes
. We directly assigned suitability index scores to these combinations based on data from Hamel (1992) on the habitat associations of chuck-will’s-widows in the Southeast.
The realized suitability of the sites identified in SI1 depends largely on their landscape context. Cooper (1981) observed highest chuck-will’s-widow abundance in areas with equal amounts of forest and agriculture. Therefore, we used the proportion of these two habitats in a 500-m radius window (SI2) in our model of chuck-will’s-widow habitat suitability. We assigned the maximum suitability index score (1.000) to landscapes characterized by 50 percent forest and 50 percent agriculture. We reduced these scores as landscapes varied from this optimal configuration towards either a more open or forested composition with a stronger reduction in suitability for increasingly forested landscapes
The overall suitability index score for chuck-will’s-widow is based solely on SI2, which incorporates the results from SI1.
Overall SI = SI2