Aug 212017
 

Now’s the time to be looking for migrating Common Nighthawks. The best time to see flocks is late afternoon and evening. They feed as they fly and are often seen over water. In my experience, they often turn up after a rain event.

Here are some recent sightings from Tim Dyson who lives in the Warsaw area:

1.On the evening of August 16, I saw 41 Common Nighthawks over the Indian River just north of Warsaw. I watched for 30 minutes, just after the sun had set. They were moving along southward in groups averaging about five per group.

2. August 18th between 6:24pm and 6:27 pm, no less than 98 Common Nighthawks passed overhead where I am just n/w of Warsaw. Through a curtain of moderate rainfall, they were heading roughly s/w at average nighthawk height (100+ meters from the ground). Not really darting here and there much as is typical of them, but seemingly more intent on the direction they headed and the altitude they were keeping. Appearing as three loosely-connected bunches, it was difficult to count them at times, therefore I am glad they weren’t in whirling masses as is sometimes the case. They stretched to the eastern and western horizon, and despite my frantic searching, I could not bring the total to an even hundred birds or more. Although I have lived in a fair number of locations in the county over the past 25 years from Belmont Lake, Rice Lake, Buckhorn, and Nephton and places in between, interestingly, the Warsaw area has always yielded the highest numbers for migrating nighthawks in my experience, both now, and in the early-to-mid 1990s).

3. August 19th I got home to Warsaw just before dark in time to notice only 2 nighthawks flying past from east to west. I waited around another ten minutes or so, but saw no more.

4. On the morning of August 20th, (the date I’ve always considered to be average for observing large numbers of the species), 14 nighthawks just appeared to the north, gathered, (and very much like migrating Broad-winged Hawks will about four weeks from now), they “kettled” in a thermal and rode it straight up and out of my sight. This happened at 10:30am, it is sunny, humid, and 24 degrees outside. I find this far more bizarre than seeing more than one hundred nighthawks during an evening observation. That’s pretty normal. But a small kettle of them before noon… that’s just plain odd for me!

Common Nighthawk – Wikimedia

Nighhawks over Buckhorn Lake – Aug. 15, 2016 – David Beaucage Johnson

Aug 172016
 

Tonight, August 15, we had a spectacular aerial show with Common Nighthawks, Tree Swallows and gulls. The nighthawks were swarming over our Curve Lake house. I would estimate 50 but it was difficult to count because of the irregularity of their flight. There were also about twenty gulls and 100 tree swallows at the same time. About the same number of nighthawks (45) as August 25th, 2012. In 2012, they all were flying on an easterly course over Kutang Island on Buckhorn Lake which made it easy to count them. I managed to snap a photo of tonight’s show to give you an idea of what one part of the sky looked like at any given time. Not a great photo for seeing details of the birds but it is more for the pattern of flights. The show lasted for about an hour.

The same flock (of 50 nighthawks) were flying and feeding above the straight-stretch between the Quarter Mile Gas Station and the Waste Transfer station in Curve Lake on August 20. They might be doing so every night, I’m not sure because sometimes I forget to look up. It is good to see though. I wonder if Curve Lake is an evening gathering place for the local birds.

David Beaucage Johnson, Curve Lake

Note:  It is most likely that the nighthawks were migrating southward, despite the somewhat early date. A swarm like David describes with swallows and gulls often forms when birds are feeding on mating flights of ants. D.M.

Common Nighhawks over Buckhorn L. Aug. 15, 2016 - David Beaucage Johnson

Common Nighhawks over Buckhorn L. Aug. 15, 2016 – David Beaucage Johnson

Common Nighthawk (note white bars on underside of wings)

Common Nighthawk (note white bars on underside of wings)

Aug 202014
 

It appears that Common Nighthawks have begun to migrate south. Tonight at 6:50, I counted 38 flying over St. Anne’s school. 20min later I counted 44 flying around stormwater ponds behind Walmart and Evans Dr (suspect the same flock just moving around the north end). Pretty amazing site to see the sky dotted in nighthawks! Coincidentally, I also noticed more blackflies than I’ve seen in months.    Scott Gibson

We were driving east on Hwy 7 late yesterday afternoon (near Carleton Place), and also saw a fairly large flock of Common Nighthawks, generally flying south-east.   Toni Sinclair

Common Nighthawk (Wikimedia)

Common Nighthawk (Wikimedia)

 

May 302014
 

On May 28th at around 8:30 pm. I saw 5 Common Nighthawks flying over the Otonabee River at 9th Line, accompanied by a very vocal male nighthawk calling then diving from a tree. He flew to another tree when he came up from his dive, and then went back to the original tree where he repeated both the call and dive again.

Common Nighthawk - Wikimedia

Common Nighthawk – Wikimedia

Susan Chow, Biology Department,  Trent University