Common Nighthawk, Cordeiles minor
I could have slipped this in to Friday's post, but since it was a new species for campus, opted for a dedicated post. The Common Nighthawk (link to images & calls) is a bird we see regularly this time of year, but always at dusk, after we've departed West Campus for the day. So, for the sake of a new species for our list I stayed late at work on Friday. High over the parking lot just before 5:30, as I watched yet another Osprey through the binoculars, one nighthawk, then another passed through my field of view.
I just searched the web for an image approximating my view, link here:
Our Common Nighthawk belongs to the family Caprimulgidae, Order Caprimulgiformes. The latin name means "goat sucker", which reflects old popular lore that the birds sucked milk - from goats.
Nighthawks gather in large flocks this time or year, towards dusk, with migratory flights known to number 1000 birds. The birds feed as they fly - catching insects on the wing, both at high and low altitudes. So, look skyward in the late afternoon towards dusk, for these slender-winged birds, with their strange floppy-looking wingbeat, hawking insects over a clearing or a watercourse.