NIGHTJARS

Common Nighthawk

 Pursuing flying insects at dusk and dawn, the Common Nighthawk can be seen flying its floppy flight in rural or urban areas. Its white wing patches and erratic flight make it look like a big bat with headlights, and it is known in some areas as the "bullbat." Like all Nightjars, their beaks are tiny, but they have an enormous mouth with long, stiff bristles around the edge that serve as flytraps for scooping flying insects out of the air.   A single Common Nighthawk can eat upwards of 500 mosquitoes in a single day!

During the midday hours this bird usually rests on horizontal tree limbs, fences, and utility wires.

The male Common Nighthawk has a dramatic  display used during the breeding season. He flies around at a moderate height, then dives straight toward the ground. About 2 yards from the ground he turns upward. At the bottom of the dive he flexes his wings downward, and the air rushing through his wingtips makes a deep booming sound. The dives are directed at females, young nighthawks, intruders, and even people! Nighthawks breed as far north as the Yukon and as far south as Panama.