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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

400 More Common Nighthawks

Common Nighthawk, migrating

Common Nighthawk at dusk. Note long, thin, pointed wings, white bar near center of outer wing.

Continuing with our nighthawk watch, last night we saw 400 more Common Nighthawks. If you add that to what we saw the night before, you get 765 total nighthawks we've seen in two days. Wow! Again, we had the largest number of nighthawks seen last night, from the towns reporting to the NH/MA nighthawk survey.

Trying not to miss a beat, we had hamburgers on the deck. Looking through our binoculars with one hand, while trying to eat a burger with the other hand, is not an easy trick, but we managed. We didn't want to miss one, single nighthawk.

We watched until 7:45 pm, when the light was very dim. Good thing we had our Stokes DLS binoculars that are twilight optimized, allowing us to see birds even at dusk.

Keep watching for Common Nighthawks during the next few days. Tips for seeing migrating Common Nighthawks:

1. Look during the later afternoon to early evening hours, from about 4 pm to 7:30 pm.
2. Look north, as they generally move from north to south.
3. Get comfortable, use a chair if you can, you will be looking for quite a while. Tuck your elbows in, it is less tiring and steadier to hold binos that way.
4. Nighthawks often move along river corridors
5. Note if there is an ant hatch. Nighthawks are attracted to, and eat, dispersing ants who rise up in clouds.
6. Study the photos above, to learn nighthawk shape. Often you will only see distant birds with long pointed wings, flapping rather slowly. When feeding, nighthawks fly erratically. When migrating, they move more directly and may even rise up on a thermal sometimes.


Birdfreak said...

That's a lot of nighthawks!!

I would add to the tips list - listen for their distinct sound. I was at a baseball game last night and heard a few calling above the field.

Sue said...

Thank so much for your pictures and viewing tips - I saw my first (ever) nighthawk last Friday evening!