Common Nighthawk

The common nighthawk is a swift, graceful flyer capable of catching and eating insects on the wing. Its territorial “call” isn’t really a call; it’s a loud whirring buzz made by its wings as it dives. You’d think such a bird would nest high in a tree, as close to the sky as possible, right?

Nope. The nighthawk doesn’t build a nest at all. It just lays its eggs right on the ground, where their speckled pattern blends in with the dirt and leaves.

Common Nighthawk
Those huge eyes help it find flying insects at dusk.

When flying, the adult is highly visible, with a gray underside and white wing bars. But on the ground, the adult, eggs, and chicks are all superbly camouflaged — speckled gray and tan. I have been walking along, looking at the ground, and accidentally scared a nighthawk off its eggs. I’d still have to search around for a while before I found the eggs.

Common Nighthawk Eggs
From this angle, they’re easier to see.

When they hatch, the chicks are even less visible, if that’s possible. They have speckled gray down that completely vanishes against the ground. Imagine viewing these little guys from above!
Common Nighthawk Chicks
Fluffy baby chicks!

Published by

Bethany Harvey

I’m a biologist, environmental educator, occasional firefighter and frequent cubicle monkey living in North Carolina. I write literary short stories and SFF novels, and hope to someday figure out why it doesn’t work the other way around. You can find me yelling about politics on Twitter (@bethanyharvey) or about under-appreciated wildlife at OverlookedNature.com.

3 thoughts on “Common Nighthawk”

  1. Nature is amazing!
    Thank you for another beautiful and educating (please correct me if this is not the proper word, and educate me further 😉 post.
    Turtle hugs (you must know : they don’t really hug , do they? ; but I like this expression so so much) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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