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.
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.
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!