"Nature’s Fighter Plane"

Common Nighthawk

Keith Davis nighthawk        My honey and I love to sit outside in the evenings and watch the sun disappear into the west mountains. What a pleasure it is when there are no annoying insects. This spring, as twilight fell, we would see only two or three bats hunting for prey. But this week, the insects have arrived in droves! Now the skies are alive with bats, twisting, turning, and picking off every flying insect they can find. Not only did we see lots and lots of bats in the sky, we saw jet fighter planes high over the Nevada Test Site setting the sky aglow with their dog fight contrails. What an evening it was, to watch US fighter planes, as well as nature’s fighter planes 'taking care of business.' Then to top off the evening there were two incoming aerial dynamic shapes that turned out to be Common Nighthawks.

        We have seen large flocks of Nighthawks in the past, pursuing winged insects at dusk and dawn, traveling near ground-level on many occasions. The past two years we have seen very few Nighthawks. We know they winter in South America and spend the summer in North America, but why have their numbers dwindled? The Nighthawk is hard to study and hard to track. The white wing patches and erratic flight of the Nighthawk make it look like a big bat with headlights (some areas call it a bullbat). Scientific reports show that in some parts of the country Nighthawk numbers have fallen as much as 70 percent. Try spending a summer evening with your honey watching for Nighthawks. If you see one, call the Red Cliffs Audubon at 435 673-0996. 

        "I hope you love birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven".  -- Emily Dickinson


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