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Anne Elliott
Chordeiles minor
back/side view
© All Rights Reserved
early summer
Southern Alberta
© Anne Elliott 2017
Common NIghthawk
Caprimulgidae family
small bill
white throat
fence post
1 July 2017

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Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk
Happy 4th July to all Americans, wherever in the world you happen to be living!

This is another photo of one of the four Common Nighthawks I was so lucky to see three days ago. Only this one was perched on a wooden fence post, which I prefer, but this was the only angle I could get - it makes the bird look much shorter than it actually is. The other three birds were lying on metal railings. Happy to get anything, needless to say!

On Canada Day, 1 July 2017, it was such a thrill to see this Common Nighthawk / Chordeiles minor (a rather strange looking bird), as I had always wanted to see one actually lying on a fence post or wooden railing. People get such amazing photos of them like that, and that is what I was determined to find this summer. Last year, I had driven to this area in southern Alberta, hoping to find one, but had been out of luck. These birds are 9½ inches from the tip of bill to the tip of tail. Not only did friend Pam and I see this one, but there were three other Nighthawks there, too. How close we came to missing them. I said I wanted to just check the first part of a small side road first, before continuing on the road we were on - and there they were! It took a round trip of 414 km to get them, but it was so worth it! I had seen a nighthawk on maybe five different occasions over the years, but never been able to get a proper photo. For Pam, this was the first time she had ever seen one, and she was so happy to see this lifer.

"On warm summer evenings, Common Nighthawks roam the skies over treetops, grasslands, and cities. Their sharp, electric peent call is often the first clue they’re overhead. In the dim half-light, these long-winged birds fly in graceful loops, flashing white patches out past the bend of each wing as they chase insects. These fairly common but declining birds make no nest. Their young are so well camouflaged that they’re hard to find, and even the adults seem to vanish as soon as they land." From AllABoutBirds.


Towards the end of our day, the rain arrived, accompanied by lightning streaks. This couldn't have been timed more perfectly, to wash off a lot of the dust that covered my car after 12 hours of driving hot, dusty roads! So welcome! We have another hot day today and the forecast is for very hot days for at least the next week. So far, the forecast is 33C for Friday, 35C for Saturday and 31C for Sunday.

I was so tired after driving such a long distance and in the heat - the temperature got up to 30C. I so rarely do such a long drive, and I've barely driven all winter and spring. It felt so good to actually get out on a long drive like this, and we saw all sorts of interesting things that we just had to stop and photograph - of course!

Every single time I go out with my camera for a drive, I never forget to be SO thankful to live in a country where I have the freedom and safety to go where I want, and to see such beauty. Thank you, Alberta and Albertans - and Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! Such a young country.

 Rudy Bernardus
Rudy Bernardus
2 years ago.

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