14 September 2015

Nighthawk Migration at North Valentine

There were a couple of good evenings to watch Common Nighthawk migration at Valentine in early September.

At the Mill Pond on the 3rd, there were at least 27 nighthawks present about 7:15 p.m. Some were very close above the pier, with a couple seen picking bugs off the calm surface of the pond along Minnechaduza creek. It was a cloudy evening with no wind. Another seven nighthawks were seen at 8:156 while in Valentine watching Chimney Swift congregate at the 6x6 bricks chimney of the Sawyer Memorial Library.

A larger movement of nighthawks occurred on the 5th during an observation time of nearly two hours, starting at 6:45 p.m. Details were:

1 at 6:45
3 at 6:48
23 at 6:51 going northerly, then quickly another two moving in the sky
1 at 7:00
1 at 7:10
19 at 7:36 going westerly along the Minnechaduza creek valley
14 at 7:51 going westerly, with another 4 going in an easterly direction
9 were going easterly at 8:02, with 6 going towards the west beneath the colorful clouds at dusk
67 going east then back west at 8:12; this was the highest count of these birds seen in the skyscape at a single time, but it may not represent the entire extent of the number present
2 at 8:20 going easterly, then 6 more
1 at 8:24 flitting about, plus 8 going westerly
7 at 8:29
1 at 8:34 going westerly

The birds were obviously moving about the area to find aerial insects to eat. There would be a greater opportunity to find suitable insect prey along the wooded creek valley, which is perhaps the reason for the notable east-to-west movement.

There was no vocalization heard while watching the birds.

No nighthawks were seen on the next two days during the same hours of observation.

One was seen on September 7, with a similar single bird on
the 12th, again while watching swifts at Valentine.