|Finding this Common Nighthawk on my backyard fence in Bountiful, Utah was pretty cool!|
When we visit Malheur NWR a few years later, I was more prepared to be impressed by this species. I recall some large trees near Benson Pond (see Malheur map) whose branches were literally decorated with Common Nighthawks. It was the middle of the day, and yet several Nighthawks broke with expected tradition and dazzled us with a mid-day flight spectacle.
Bruneau Dunes State Park one spring, a camp host recognizing me as a birder due to the binocular harness induced man-boobs suggested that I might be interested in the baby owls roosting in the trees around the campground. Excitedly I went in search of the baby owls, but instead found several roosting Common Nighthawks which my wife called "bumps on a log."
My favorite Common Nighthawk experience comes from a hike my son and a neighbor had one summer evening in the Boise foothills. As we stood on top of a hill a Common Nighthawk was dive bombing us, coming within feet of our heads. At the bottom of each dive it made a booming sound as air rushed through is air-brake feathers. I could feel it reverberate right through my man-boobs into my chest cavity. We three stood there impressed and awed by this spectacle of nature. It wasn't until I was preparing this years ABA Bird of the Year website that I came across the fun fact that Common Nighthawks do this display, not just as a mating ritual, but as territorial defense. Now I realize that that nighthawk was probably really ticked off at us.
I really love this bird. I can't wait for Spring to bring the return of the Common Nighthawks so that I can create more nighthawk memories. I'm excited to celebrate the Common Nighthawk with you all as this year's ABA Bird of the Year.
What are your memories and experiences with Common Nighthawks?