Perhaps the most exciting sighting of this trip so far was my sighting of several Common Nighthawks at the Narrows campground in Malheur. Just before going to bed I noticed them flying overhead, making very strange sounds as they swooped through the air.

I enjoyed the experience but I knew that I would never be able to capture them flying at that speed in such low light. So I resigned myself to simply enjoying the experience.

I was pleasantly surprised while fixing breakfast at 5:00 AM when three Nighthawks suddenly swooped down and landed on a railing a few feet away from my camp site.

Needless to say, the lighting wasn’t great at 5:00, but I didn’t think that they would be around long so I took a shot.


As it turned out, the three of them were still there when I was about to leave to go birding at 5:30 so I was able to get even better pictures of them.


I was really amazed how the bird folds its long wings into such a compact shape.


6 thoughts on “Nighthawks”

  1. They look a little sleepy! I wonder if their eyes are sensitive to light since they are adapted for night flying. Maybe they are just squinting?

    1. I don’t know enough about them to be sure, but since they forage like owls at night I think they must sleep during the day.

  2. How lucky you were to get such great photos of these birds! We have nighthawks here as well but the most we ever see of them is when they are flying high in the air in the evenings, and I have never seen one close up.

    1. Yes, I guess “pleasantly surprised” actually understates the pleasure I felt when they landed right in front of me.

  3. I haven’t seen these since I was a girl running up and down the pasture between my parents’ and my grandmother’s houses. I saw one sitting on a fence post; it let me get within five feet of it before it soared away. That was before the parish starting spraying for mosquitoes; corollary losses were the “bullbats” (what I heard these birds called) and fireflies. I found their nests near the sand piles, just depressions in the ground with eggs in them. These birds have whiskers like cats! Marvelous, thanks for the photos!

    1. Whenever I hear people complaining about mosquitoes, I always remind them that there probably wouldn’t be any birds without them — much too high of a price to pay for avoiding a few bites.

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