The Omahas and other Siouan Indians used to say that when whippoorwills sing at night, saying “Hoia, hohin?” one replies “No.” If the birds stop at once, it is a sign that the answerer will soon die, but if the birds keep on calling he or she will live a long time. The Utes of Colorado, however, declare that this bird is the God of the night, and that it made the moon by magic, transforming a frog into it; while the Iroquois indulged in the pretty fancy that the moccasin-flowers are whippoorwills’ shoes.
To the mountaineers of the southern Alleghanies the whippoorwill reveals how long it will be before marriage, as many years as its notes are repeated: it can reiterate its cry more than 800 times without taking breath, this must often be a discouraging report to an anxious maid or bachelor. One often hears it said lightly in New England that a whippoorwill calling very near a house portends death, but I can get no evidence that this “sign” is really attended to anywhere in the northern United States.
BIRDS IN LEGEND FABLE and FOLKLORE BY ERNEST INGERSOLL, 1923