Sunday, August 19, 2012

Common Nighthawk Migration

Common Nighthawk - male
   It's that time of year when Common Nighthawks are starting to migrate to their winter homes in South America. This bird has one of the longest migration routes of any North American migrant. We have our favorite spot in Westminster Station to watch the birds as they fly south following the path of the Connecticut River. Dusk is the best time to catch them flying in small flocks.

Common Nighthawk - female
     They are not hawks, but members of the nightjar family, which includes the whip-poor-will. These night-flying, aerial insectivores have large mouths with bristles that helps them catch insects. This night, a flock of about 10 birds flew directly overhead, circling around and around, gleaning insects.

     There has been a general decline in the number of Common Nighthawks in North America. They don't build a nest, instead, laying eggs on bare ground (sand, dirt, gravel or rock) or flat roofs (made with gravel) in urban settings. Reasons for the decline could include habitat loss, pesticide use and migration hazards. In cities, changes in roofing substrate may be a factor

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful owl! it looks exactly like harry potter's owl, hedwig! i cried when he died, i love owls and if i ever did go to hogwarts, an owl would be my choice for a pet!