|Our Feathered Friends - Aug. 15|
|Wednesday, August 15, 2012|
With baseball season on the wane, it’s time to get interested in a little football here in Wilson County. Before you know it, the nights will get a little cooler and the stadium lights will shine brightly, inducing flying insects to bathe in the bright glow of the artificial sunshine. That is the time for one of the members of the Goatsucker family to take flight, almost like the saying, "strike while the iron is hot." Dinner is in the air, just waiting to be eaten.
Bull-bats, because of their bat like flight in the evenings, and Goatsuckers because of the erroneous thought that this bird would enter into a barn to suck milk from the teats of unsuspecting goats. All false! The Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is a nocturnal bird that is more heard than seen as it makes its way around the night sky. Their vocals consist of a nasal sounding "Spe-unk" as its twitched erratic flight takes it from meal to meal. After mating and especially when flying over its chosen nest site, the Nighthawk makes a steep dive and the wind rushing through the wings when he pulls up makes a low moaning sound similar to the sound of a bull.
The bird will build its nest on gravel or a flat rock, sometimes on a graveled roof that keeps it safe from prowling cats. She lays two eggs which hatch in 19 days and then fledge in another 21 days. Some of my best pictures came from the roof of The Lebanon Democrat of a female incubating a pair of eggs. To keep me from getting too close, she would put on the injured bird act and play it up to an academy award presentation, while the male would roost on a horizontal limb across the street at the old junior high school at the window of the late Francis Sellar's music room. To look at one, it would seem to have a small mouth, but when in flight and after its meal the maul seems to open from ear to ear.
They wear a mottled grayish brown, with broad white wing bars and pale barring on the underparts. The male has a white band on his throat and tail and the female has a buff throat band, but lacks white on her tail. This bird is about nine inches in length with a 23-inch wingspan.
As summertime comes to an end, large groups will flock around lighted areas attracted to the large amount of insects to prepare for a journey of 2,500 to 6,800 miles headed down through Florida, Bermuda and Cuba and their last destination in Argentina, their wintering grounds.
During early spring, Dotty Kim would come over to my old house and we would listen for the call on the Nighthawk as it made its way around the nesting spot at the old apartments behind my home. I located a nest many years ago out to my late Uncle Albert's home on Mann Road where I watched as the female flew up in the face of a cow that was getting dangerously close to her nest. The cow put it in reverse and danger was averted.
If you do go to some of the football games here in the county, keep your eyes open for the Common Nighthawk up in the lights.
This past Sunday I went to visit my uncle and aunt, Charles and Sharon Gann, at their home north of Lebanon. After recuperating from surgery, my uncle will be making plans for me to try my hand at skydiving, hopefully before winter sets in. That is still on my bucket list, to fly like a bird, not drop like a stone. After dark, they can sit outdoors and hear the call of the Barred Owls talking back and forth at their home.
I am including the Hummingbird picture taken by Sonja Hunter in this week’s article.