Nighthawks and Pauraques

May 29, 2017 at 8:12 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Birds - Texas, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) (, )

Common nighthawk

Nighthawks are among the birds of my childhood. Their “buick buick” calls at dusk, the quick wingbeats followed by a glide, remind me of warm Southern nights. I remember being outside when it was nearly dark, and a nighthawk flew past my head.

I took off after it in my bare feet. (My feet were perpetually black in summer from running on pavement).

It landed in the fields behind our house, and to my surprise I was able to pick it up. I carried it around awhile, proud of my trophy. I figured it was a juvenile that didn’t know how to fly very well yet.

Of course, I released it after a few minutes.

I’ve seen male nighthawks courting their ladies. The females were on a post or the ground and the male would make a steep dive, pulling up with a roar of wind through his wingtips. It was an amazing sound.

Here’s a female I saw last month in Osage County, Oklahoma just as the sun had set. The male was flying nearby and you can hear the “roar” as he dives near her off-camera.

The common nighthawk is found all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The lesser nighthawk is found in very southern parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of a lesser nighthawk.

 

I’ve only seen lesser nighthawks at Big Bend National Park in Texas. They tended to run right into my car headlights after insects, and it broke my heart when I hit one.

Notice how big the eyes are. Nighthawks need to see in the dark. The mouths are huge, too, to scoop flying bugs into their maw.

I saw about two dozen common nighthawks on a trip through farmland between Lawton and Frederick, Oklahoma recently. I’ve never seen so many before, many sitting on fence posts or “bob wahr.” One was even high on a phone line.

I also saw relatives of theirs, the common pauraque, in far South Texas several years ago.  We were told exactly where they were resting amid leaves on the ground at Estero Llano Grande State Park. But it still took a minute to see them even though they were literally out in the open. That’s how good the camouflage was.

Common Pauraque

See what I mean?

Common pauraque

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website: Eastern common nighthawks are browner than those from the northern Great Plains, which are silvery gray overall.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Avian Residents of the Southwest

January 5, 2016 at 5:23 am (Bird photography, Nature, Nature photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) (, , , , )

Male Gila Woodpecker

Male Gila Woodpecker

I’ve been occupied transforming 30-year-old family videos into digital movies, so I’ve been remiss in keeping the blog up to date lately. Here are some of the birds I met on my road trip from California to Oklahoma in November that didn’t make it into the previous blog entries. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ajo, Arizona

December 13, 2015 at 6:01 am (Bird photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Southwest Landscapes, Wildlife) (, , , )

Mule deer doe in saguaro forest

Mule deer doe in saguaro forest

Although I chose not to visit Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge with a heavily loaded minivan due to the rugged roads, I stopped at the refuge’s visitor center in Ajo, Arizona and found out about a loop drive that was much easier to navigate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Birds of Joshua Tree

May 19, 2015 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Mojave Desert, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife)

Canyon wren fledgling looking grouchy

Canyon wren fledgling looking grouchy

The young canyon wrens made a non-stop racket at the 49 Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park.  The loud peeps helped their parents keep track of them when they were ready to fill those noisy mouths with caterpillars.

Canyon-Wren-fledgling,-Joshua-Tree-NP-CA-(10)-copy-2

The fledglings could fly well enough to pester a parent hunting for their meals.  Soon, though, these babies will learn to find their own food, and the palm grove will return to peace and quiet. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Few Good Birds of Mojave National Preserve

April 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) ()

Zone-tailed hawk

Zone-tailed hawk

Going birding with an expert familiar with which bird will be found where is usually an excellent way to “meet” new species, and the zone-tailed hawk was the highlight for me on a trip last week to Mojave National Preserve, California. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mojave National Preserve

April 19, 2015 at 9:50 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, Butterflies, California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildflowers) (, , )

Mojave National Preserve, near Mid-Hills Campground

Mojave National Preserve, near Mid-Hills campground

Since I moved to Southern California, I’ve been “saving” a visit to Mojave National Preserve for just the right weekend – an early April birding trip with the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society.

Rock Springs House and desert purple sage (Salvia sp.)

Rock Spring House and desert purple sage (Salvia sp.)

The weather was perfect, I added two birds to my life list, and the scenery surpassed expectations. Read the rest of this entry »

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December Birds in Southern California

December 21, 2014 at 10:13 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds)

Cooper's Hawk Juvenile, Newberry Springs, California

Cooper’s Hawk Juvenile, Newberry Springs, California

Birds seen on a field trip with San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society and on the Morongo Valley Christmas Bird Count.  (Not including ones already featured in recent blogs.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Hummingbird with the Amethyst Throat

December 20, 2014 at 7:20 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds) (, , )

Male Costa's Hummingbird closeup

Male Costa’s Hummingbird closeup

The male Costa’s hummingbird also has a violet crown.  This little beauty was seen sitting on a blooming bladderpod bush in California’s Morongo Valley last week.

Costa's-Hummingbird-male-on-bladderpod-(13)-copy-3

He was the second Costa’s seen on the Christmas Bird Count.  Since the first was at a bladderpod, when I saw another in bloom I hunted for another flying jewel. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Peppy Phainopepla

December 19, 2014 at 6:45 am (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) (, , , )

Male phainopepla in flight

Male phainopepla in flight

The hard-to-pronounce word (fain-o-PEP-la) is Greek for “shining robe” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  These unique birds of the Southwest congregate in areas of abundant mistletoe, and they typically eat more than 1,000 of those berries each day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bear River Birds

September 10, 2014 at 7:15 am (Bird photography, Dragonflies and Bugs, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds) ()

Western grebe pair

Western grebe pair

Although my trip in July to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah was a bust (child-rearing was already over) I did get a few nice images.  The Western grebes look similar to the Clark’s grebe, but the black on the head covers their eyes.   See the difference.

Clark's Grebe

Clark’s Grebe

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