Although Eastern Whip-poor-wills are not technically songbirds, their whip-poor-will call functions as a song, since males consistently repeat this call from conspicuous perches during the breeding season.
The male’s emphatic, chanted whip-poor-will, sometimes repeated for hours on end, is a classic sound of warm summer nights in the countryside of the East. It commonly appears in regional songs and literature. A typical call accents the first and last syllable (with a tremulous middle syllable), and immediately starts in on the next call, creating a circular rhythm. Males and females both give a short, sharp quirt to contact their mates or express agitation when a predator is near the nest. They also make growls to ward off territorial intruders and hisses to ward off predators.
The Eastern Whip-poor-will sometimes claps its wings to warn intruders away from its territory.