Saturday, August 3, 2013

Common Nighthawk eggs and nestling

The Common Nighthawk is the American Birding Association's 2013 Bird of the Year. In April they migrate through our South Florida neighborhood and some stay to breed here each year. 

Our daughter visited the newly reopened Hall of Birds at the Field Museum in Chicago and took this cell phone photo of one of my nighthawk images that was used in their new interactive bird exhibit.
Nighthawk in Field Museum MAY 2013
Last year, as reported earlier, I discovered the eggs of a Common Nighthawk along the gravel road that leads into the wetlands near our home. 
Common Nighthawk eggs macro SOOC 20120614
This year, on May 19th, I found a fresh egg shell not far from last year's nest site. The parent had alerted me to its presence by flying up from this spot. For fear of stepping on a chick I did not venture in immediately.
Common Nighthawk egg shell 20130519
Eight days later Mary Lou and I got out early to check on the progress of the breeding herons in the local rookery. On the way into the wetlands the nighthawk once again burst off its nest and tried to lure us away.
Common Nighthawk 20130527
This time I took careful notice of the exact spot where the bird had been sitting. Scanning with my binoculars, I found its single chick.
Common Nighthawk chick 2-20130524
Six days later the little nighthawk showed development of flight feathers.
Common Nighthawk chick 20130531
The baby was very well hidden. It is in the very center of this photo. To see it clearly, click on the image and select the original size.
Find the baby nighthawk 20130531
The last time I saw the nestling was on June 1, which was two weeks after I found its empty egg shell. It appeared nearly ready for flight.Common Nighthawk nestling 201306
As before, the adult bird remained close by and attempted to distract me by flapping its wings as shown in the video at the end of this post. Although two adults were present at this site several weeks before, only one was visible when we walked by after discovering the nest.  
Common Nighthawk 201306
On June 7 an adult nighthawk dive-bombed and "boomed" over my head as I walked in the area of the nest.
Common Nighthawk 2-20130607
Early on the morning of July 19th I encountered three nighthawks resting near the recent nest site. All three took flight and interacted with one another. One swooped over my head and I noticed that the booming noise was created just as the bird began to turn upwards from the low point of its dive. I like to think that the three birds were the same family.
Common Nighthawk 20130719
I put together this video which illustrates the parent's distraction display in response to human disturbance.


  1. Very informative post. I've seen a nighthawk only once, many years ago, and not since. This post was a treat!

  2. A really interesting post. They do have beautiful eggs.

  3. Awesome bird and great photos, Ken!

  4. Great documentation! Fantastic photographs!

  5. Great post!!! I just saw my first Common here in Arizona. They are such interesting birds. Very helpful post. Thanks for sharing!