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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Common Nighthawk


Do you recognize this call when you hear it?

As young kids we used to watch Nighthawks at dusk with their long graceful wings marked with a crescent moon dart through the sky. No flying insects were safe from these aerial vacuum cleaners with their wide gaping mouths as they maneuvered effortlessly through the sunset sky scooping them up. In a sense, I suppose Nighthawks could be called the Right Whales of the air with their mouths wide open collecting food.

Due to their size and erratic flight path we initially thought Nighthawks were large bats making it easy to see how they coined the name 'Bullbats'. We later discovered their true identity.

As you see pictured Nighthawks have some inordinately large eyes. I suppose this helps them see at dusk and dawn as they swoop down on unsuspecting insects during the twilight hours. The whiskers / bristles surrounding the base of their beak supposedly aid in gathering food and offer protection to their eyes while airborne. Their large oblong nostril openings are interesting.

This particular Common Nighthawk was resting on a limb at Peveto Woods Sanctuary during the daytime. Sitting motionless on a limb coupled with its cryptic coloration makes this guy difficult to spot for both predators and humans alike. So, if you are in the woods and spot a bump on a limb that appears to be somewhat out of place be sure to look closely. It might just be a resting Nighthawk.

In my field guide the Common Nighthawk is listed as a Goatsucker. I seriously doubt if a farmer has to worry about one of these guys sneaking into his barn late at night and milking his goats. Goat milk is not on a Nighthawk's menu. :)

Left-Click on each Images to Enlarge

Dipping, diving and flying the friendly skies.

Keeping an eye on the photographer.

Up, up and away!

Life is GOOD!

Chase anyone?

I'm right on your tail.

Tag, your it!

How many of you watch Synchronized Swimming in the Olympics? If there was a Synchronized Flying sport these guys would stand a good chance. :)

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