In Scope: Common Nighthawk

common nighthawk drawing

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. ~ Genesis 1:20

    'Peent! Peent!' - the call rang out throughout the valley as I lifted my eyes searchingly toward the sky.  There it was, a silhouette of a bird flying high above the fields and the trees, its call resonating in the warm evening air. The moment I heard that familiar sound, I knew it must be the Common Nighthawk.  I look forward to the arrival of this summer bird every year - to me its a true hallmark of the season.   Nothing says summer to me quite like the call of the Nighthawk.  In fact, I don't think summer would feel quite the same without it.  While my bird app's range map tells me that the Common Nighthawk is an uncommon visitor to our area during the breeding season, its a species we enjoy annually throughout the summer where we live.  Since this species is one of my favorite birds of summer, I wanted to share it with all of you for this month's In Scope.


Fun Facts


Did you know....

What Attracts the Common Nighthawk?


   The biggest draw for the Common Nighthawk is flying insects.  Just like swallows, these aerialists are adept at catching their prey in mid-air.  The semi-daylight hours at dusk and dawn bring them out to feed.  They may also be seen occasionally during the day and very rarely at night.


What to Look For -


    As I mentioned before, Common Nighthawks are very distinctive in their flight - so if you hear a 'Peent' or 'Boom' sound in the sky overhead, look for a high flying bird that looks like a swallow or a bat in its flying habit.  You may even get to see the diving display of the male nighthawk!  If you're out enjoying an evening in your backyard or garden, that's the perfect time to keep an eye out for this beautiful bird.


Zoom In: Species Profile


    The Common Nighthawk's scientific name is Chordeiles minor.  This medium sized bird is about the size of a jay at 10 inches long.  Both males and females exhibit mottled brown plumage on both the upper and underside, looking very camouflaged among dirt, rocks, dead leaves and grass.  In flight, white wing markings can be seen.  Males also have a white throat and white markings on their tails.  The female has a dirty-cream colored throat and lacks tail markings.

     As mentioned above, the call of the Common Nighthawk is a nasal 'Peent' or 'Pee-yah'.  Common Nighthawks vocalize most often at dusk.  The preferred habitat of the Common Nighthawk is in woodlands, fields, agricultural areas, towns and suburbs.  They may also be found nesting on flat rooftops or foraging in ball fields and among street, billboard or stadium lights.  The female Common Nighthawk lays 2 cream or olive colored eggs with small but many speckles.

    The breeding range of the Common Nighthawk spans much of Canada, Nova Scotia and the United States.  They spend the winter in tropical regions. 



    This month I've created a Common Nighthawk coloring page for all of you to enjoy!  To download this free PDF, simply click here




    "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." - Psalm 113:3 NIV

    The sights and sounds of the Common Nighthawk that evening reminded me of this verse and to be mindful of the fact that all of creation praises God.  That's probably a statement you've heard many times over here at Wasell Gardens - but the simple fact never ceases to amaze me and make me think, "How Awesome is our God!"

    Happy Summer everyone! God bless you! 

    By, Jessi Wasell