Thursday, August 10, 2006

Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor)

I kind of forget about Common Nighthawks each year until they begin to re-appear again over my back yard in the evenings of early or mid-August. Soaring over the old chimneys of our house, they disappear, then appear again coming from another direction. Quick in flight and manouvering at high speeds; they are beautiful to watch. They are insect eaters and eat hundreds of insects and mosquitoes each day while in flight. They are always welcome birds.

I have only seen Nighthawks flying and perhaps would not recognize them otherwise for when in flight their distinctive white wing bars give immediate recognition. The white wing bars are on both the underparts and outerwings ; but only the male has a white tail bar. Below is a male Common Nighthawk. Also distinctive of the male is the white throat patch which is easily seen in the photo. The female has no white tail bar and its throat patch is buffy instead of white. This can be seen in the photo of the female Common Nighthawk below. Also notice the short beak which is characteristic of both male and females.

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