Tag Archives: Nightjars

Finding Roosting Common Nighthawks

Common Nighthawk

. Common Nighthawk at Montrose, August 21, 2021 (click to see the larger version)

Migrant Common Nighthawks are starting to show up in the Chicago area. We usually see large numbers of them, sometimes in the hundreds or more, moving south in late afternoon and evening in late August and early September. Seeing one perched is a different matter. Like other nightjars, Common Nighthawks are cryptically colored and when they perch they don’t move, all but disappearing. A good way to find them is to examine bare, horizontal tree limbs on trees that don’t have a lot of leaves. I’ve used this method with some success at Montrose. You may have to look at a lot of trees to find a roosting nighthawk but the effort will be worth it when you find one. They’re also easy to photograph.

The Sweet Season, May 9, 2019

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk. Photo by M. Ferguson (click to see the larger version)

The sweet season has commenced. Days like May 9 make suffering through Chicago winters worth it. I don’t know if the volume of birds was better than the fantastic weekend of May 4-5 but the variety certainly was. I tallied 95 species in about 3.5 hours of morning birding, my best spring total to date (according to eBird, over 120 species were reported). My highlights include 3 Black-bellied Plovers, Willet, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common and Forster’s Terns, a roosting Common Nighthawk, 5 woodpeckers, 19 species of warblers (Pine, Northern Parula, and Blue-winged being the best), and Clay-colored Sparrow. Link to my eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist

May 3, 2018

Panne and Chicago Skyline

Panne and Chicago Skyline (click to see the larger version)

With the rain last night and the dense fog this morning I was hoping for a warblers-dripping-from-the-trees kind of morning at Montrose today, but it didn’t happen. Not that there weren’t birds – during my brief visit I snagged a Least Bittern and a roosting Eastern Whip-poor-will, thanks to a couple of friendly birders. Also, Soras were flushing left and right from the pannes, which, thanks to last night’s rain, are soaking wet and looking very good for rails.

I took this photo from the western panne with the north Chicago skyline in the background. Note the layer of fog over Lake Michigan. Visibility was down to about 75 yards at one point.

September 24, 2016

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Eastern Whip-poor-will (click to see the larger version)

I spent almost 4 hours at Montrose this morning, September 24. I didn’t have high hopes because of the east winds but it turned out to be a good day. I ended up with 61 species, my best count this fall so far. Highlights include Osprey, Eastern Whip-poor-will (see photo), Wood Thrush, Clay-colored Sparrow, Sedge Wren, and Black-throated Blue Warbler. Link to eBird checklist below.

eBird Checklist

May 11, 2016

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Eastern Whip-poor-will (click to see the larger version)

I was at Montrose from 6 to 8 this morning and it was impressive. I don’t know if this constituted a fallout but there were a lot of birds around. I almost didn’t go out because of the thick fog (.25 mile visibility), but I was curious if the fog had downed any birds. The warblers weren’t the best I’ve ever seen but still good (I ended up with 22 species), but the tanagers, grosbeaks, and thrushes were
excellent. There was definitely turnover compared to the last few days. Here’s a rundown of what I saw (not a complete list; for a complete list follow the eBird link below):

Common Nighthawk – 1 perched on the outer branches of a Honey Locust (!)
Black-billed Cuckoo – 1
Great Crested Flycatcher – ~6
Least Flycatcher – ~10
Eastern Kingbird – ~15, some in groups of 4 and 5
White-eyed Vireo – 1
Yellow-throated Vireo – 1
Philadelphia Vireo – 1
Red-eyed Vireo – ~5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – ~12
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – ~12
Eastern Bluebird – 1
Wood Thrush – 1
Veery – ~6
Swainson’s Thrush – ~40
Gray-cheeked Thrush – 3
Gray Catbird – ~50, they seemed to be everywhere
Blue-winged Warbler – 1
Golden-winged Warbler – 1
Orange-crowned Warbler – 3
Nashville Warbler – 2
Tennessee Warbler – ~5
Northern Parula – 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler – ~5
Cape May Warbler – ~5
Magnolia Warbler – ~15
Yellow-rumped Warbler – ~15
Black-and-white Warbler – 2
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 1 male
Black-throated Green Warbler – 2
Bay-breasted Warbler – 1
Palm Warbler – ~25
Canada Warbler – 1
Common Yellowthroat – ~40
Wilson’s Warbler – 1
Ovenbird – 2
Northern Waterthrush – ~6
American Redstart – ~8
Scarlet Tanager – ~12, some in groups of 3 and 4
Savannah Sparrow – ~20
Swamp Sparrow – ~40
Lincoln’s Sparrow – 2
White-crowned Sparrow – ~40
White-throated Sparrow – ~25
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – ~12
Indigo Bunting – ~8
Bobolink – 1
Orchard Oriole – 1 immature male
Baltimore Oriole – ~12
Pine Siskin – 1

eBird Checklist