Birds Vol 1 #5 – The Night Hawk

Night Hawk for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Night Hawk for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. May, 1897 No. 5




HE range of the Night Hawk, also known as “Bull-bat,” “Mosquito Hawk,” “Will o’ the Wisp,” “Pisk,” “Piramidig,” and sometimes erroneously as “Whip-poor-will,” being frequently mistaken for that bird, is an extensive one. It is only a summer visitor throughout the United States and Canada, generally arriving from its winter haunts in the Bahamas, or Central and South America in the latter part of April, reaching the more northern parts about a month later, and leaving the latter again in large straggling flocks about the end of August, moving leisurely southward and disappearing gradually along our southern border about the latter part of October. Major Bendire says its migrations are very extended and cover the greater part of the American continent.

The Night Hawk, in making its home, prefers a well timbered country. Its common name is somewhat of a misnomer, as it is not nocturnal in its habits. It is not an uncommon sight to see numbers of these birds on the wing on bright sunny days, but it does most of its hunting in cloudy weather, and in the early morning and evening, returning to rest soon after dark. On bright moonlight nights it flies later, and its calls are sometimes heard as late as eleven o’clock.

“This species is one of the most graceful birds on the wing, and its aerial evolutions are truly wonderful; one moment it may be seen soaring through space without any apparent movement of its pinions, and again its swift flight is accompanied by a good deal of rapid flapping of the wings, like that of Falcons, and this is more or less varied by numerous twistings and turnings. While constantly darting here and there in pursuit of its prey,” says a traveler, “I have seen one of these birds shoot almost perpendicularly upward after an insect, with the swiftness of an arrow. The Night Hawk’s tail appears to assist it greatly in these sudden zigzag changes, being partly expanded during most of its complicated movements.”

Night Hawks are sociable birds, especially on the wing, and seem to enjoy each other’s company. Their squeaking call note, sounding like “Speek-speek,” is repeated at intervals. These aerial evolutions are principally confined to the mating season. On the ground the movements of this Hawk are slow, unsteady, and more or less laborious. Its food consists mainly of insects, such as flies and mosquitos, small beetles, grasshoppers, and the small night-flying moths, all of which are caught on the wing. A useful bird, it deserves the fullest protection.

The favorite haunts of the Night Hawk are the edges of forests and clearings, burnt tracts, meadow lands along river bottoms, and cultivated fields, as well as the flat mansard roofs in many of our larger cities, to which it is attracted by the large amount of food found there, especially about electric lights. During the heat of the day the Night Hawk may be seen resting on limbs of trees, fence rails, the flat surface of lichen-covered rock, on stone walls, old logs, chimney tops, and on railroad tracks. It is very rare to find it on the ground.

The nesting-time is June and July. No nest is made, but two eggs are deposited on the bare ground, frequently in very exposed situations, or in slight depressions on flat rocks, between rows of corn, and the like. Only one brood is raised. The birds sit alternately for about sixteen days. There is endless variation in the marking of the eggs, and it is considered one of the most difficult to describe satisfactorily.


As you will see from my name, I am a bird of the night. Daytime is not at all pleasing to me because of its brightness and noise.

I like the cool, dark evenings when the insects fly around the house-tops. They are my food and it needs a quick bird to catch them. If you will notice my flight, you will see it is swift and graceful. When hunting insects we go in a crowd. It is seldom that people see us because of the darkness. Often we stay near a stream of water, for the fog which rises in the night hides us from the insects on which we feed.

None of us sing well—we have only a few doleful notes which frighten people who do not understand our habits.

In the daytime we seek the darkest part of the woods, and perch lengthwise on the branches of trees, just as our cousins the Whippoorwills do. We could perch crosswise just as well. Can you think why we do not? If there be no woods near, we just roost upon the ground.

Our plumage is a mottled brown—the same color of the bark on which we rest. Our eggs are laid on the ground, for we do not care to build nests. There are only two of them, dull white with grayish brown marks on them.

Sometimes we lay our eggs on flat roofs in cities, and stay there during the day, but we prefer the country where there is good pasture land. I think my cousin Whippoorwill is to talk to you next month. People think we are very much alike. You can judge for yourself when you see his picture.

Photographed through cage wires.

Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) at National Aviary by Lee

Lee’s Addition:

Nighthawks are in our list of birds that are “unclean.” Both verses are identical in the KJV.

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, (Lev 11:16)
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, (Deu 14:15)

The Nighthawk is part of the Caprimulgidae – Nightjars Family which has 93 species and is one of our Birds of the Bible. The Nighthawks family is part of the Caprimulgiformes Order which has Frogmouths, Oilbird and the Potoos families.

The Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is a medium-sized crepuscular or nocturnal bird, whose presence and identity are best revealed by its vocalization. Typically dark (grey, black and brown), displaying cryptic colouration and intricate patterns, this bird becomes invisible by day. Once aerial, with its buoyant but erratic flight, this bird is most conspicuous. The most remarkable feature of this aerial insectivore is its small beak belies the massiveness of its mouth. Some claim appearance similarities to owls. With its horizontal stance and short legs, the Common Nighthawk does not travel frequently on the ground, instead preferring to perch horizontally, parallel to branches, on posts, on the ground or on a roof. The males of this species may roost together but the bird is primarily solitary. The Common Nighthawk shows variability in territory size.

This caprimulguid has a large, flattened head with large eyes; facially it lacks rictal bristles. The Common Nighthawk has long slender wings that at rest extend beyond a notched tail. There is noticeable barring on the sides and abdomen, also white wing-patches.

Common Nighthawk by Neal Addy

Common Nighthawk by Neal Addy

The Common Nighthawk measures 8.7-9.4 in/22-25 cm in length, displays a wing span of 21-24 in/54–61 cm, weighs 2.3-3.5 oz/65-98 g, and has a life span of 4–5 years.

Within family Caprimulgidae, subfamily Chordeilinae (Nighthawks) are limited to the New World and are distinguished from the subfamily Caprimulginae, by the lack of rictal bristles.

The most conspicuous vocalization is a nasal peent or beernt during even flight. Peak vocalizations are reported 30–45 minutes after sunset. Croaking auk auk auk vocalized by males while in the presence of a female during courtship. Another courtship sound, thought to be made solely by the males, is the boom, created by air rushing through the primaries after a quick down flex of the wings during a daytime dive.

Sometimes call the “Bull-Bat – due to its perceived “bat-like” flight, and the “bull-like” boom made by its wings as it pulls from a dive.”

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Wood Thrush

Previous Article – The Indigo Bunting

Story of the Wordless Book


Bible Birds – Night Hawks

Birds of the Bible – Nighthawks and Nightjars

Birds of the Bible – NighthawkandNighthawks II

Caprimulgidae – Night Hawks

Common Nighthawk – All About Birds

Common Nighthawk – Wikipedia

Nightjar Wikipedia



The Futuristic Whip-poor-wills….

The Futuristic Whip-poor-wills…. – by a j mithra

Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) by BirdsInFocus

Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) by BirdsInFocus

Whip-poor-wills belong to an unusual family of birds called nightjars – because their loud repetitive songs “jar” the silence of the night – or goatsuckers – because of a superstition that these birds fly into farmyards during the night and drink milk from the livestock.

The name Whip-poor-will and that of many other nightjars – approximates what the bird seems to say.

Whip-poor-wills are thought to migrate individually; however, they are so well synchronized that they tend to arrive in the same place at the same time, giving the impression that they are traveling in flocks. Migrating alone yet arriving at the same place, at the same time.. Amazing!

Though each one of us a journeying alone on life’s highway, all of us are on the verge of migrating forever to the same place at the same time… The Universe is about to close down soon..

Are we getting ready for migration?

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)

Ladder-tailed Nightjar (Hydropsalis climacocerca) ©AGrosset

Ladder-tailed Nightjar (Hydropsalis climacocerca) ©AGrosset

Nightjars have a structure in the eye called the tapitum lucidum. This structure holds tiny oil droplets that allow the retina of the eye to absorb more light, giving the birds superior vision at low light levels. This makes it possible for nightjars to hunt for the abundant insects that appear at dusk and dawn, and on moonlit nights— they watch for flying insects silhouetted against the backdrop of the night sky.

Nightjars have rictal bristles—long stiff bristles that form a comb overhanging the side of the upper beak. The purpose of rictal bristles is uncertain but they may protect the birds’ eyes from large struggling insect prey, or they may function as a net to help catch insects.

The Common Poorwill uses torpor to hibernate through the winter. This bird can lower its body temperature and suspend activity for more than three months when the weather is cold and insects are scarce…

GOD calls us as the Light of the World… But sadly, most people are still in the dark, not able to see THE LIGHT…

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. ( Mathew 6: 22 )

Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) ©RonAusting

Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) ©RonAusting

Whip-poor-will breeding coincides with the full moon in late spring, when insects are plentiful and hunting is easy. The female lays eggs around the time of the full moon when she is well fed and healthy; the eggs hatch about 10days before the next full moon, when it’s easy for the adult birds to catch insects to feed their young; and the young birds are independent by the next consecutive full moon, when it’s easy for them to find their own food.

  • Some go for it when they think that they are not ready for a baby…
  • Some go for it due to pressure from their spouses…
  • Some go for it when they find that, their professional growth may come to a halt..
  • There are still some in countries like India, who go for it, if the baby is found to be a girl….

That “IT” is what people call as Abortion? Sadly, we human live in a system where Abortion is legal in most countries…

Here the decision of rearing a chick does seem to have been taken by the female bird… But the so called human beings treat Women like incubators…

How dare we take the rights in our hands to stop GOD’s creation?

Do birds use contraceptives or go for an abortion? Birds seem to have control over the timing of birth of their offspring. It is a shame that we don’t have control, or can we call it self-control?

These Birds are so concerned about their offspring’s future, even before they lay eggs.. Whereas we plan after the child is born… Even GOD had created our every need much before we entered our mother’s womb…

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalm 127:3 )

Raising children is a ministry which GOD had given to parents…
Raising them for HIS glory or aborting HIS reward is our choice…
Let GOD give us wisdom to make the right choice at the right time..

Have a blessed day!

Your’s in YESHUA,
a j mithra

Please visit us at: Crosstree

Lee’s Addition:

Whip-poor-wills say there name and that is one reason it is call that.

Whip-poor-wills are of the Caprimulgidae family which includes Nightjars, Nighthawks, Poorwills, Pauraque, and the Chuck-wills-widow. These are all part of the Caprimulgiformes Order. That Order includes the Nightjars, Frogmouths, Oilbird, and Potoos.

Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus)

Birds of the Bible – Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

The Night Hawk is part of the Caprimulgidae – Nightjars family. Here in North America, the Lesser, Common, and Antillean Nighthawks, are joined by the Common Pauraque, Common Poorwill, Chuck-Will’s Widow, and the Whip-Poor-Will to round out the family. They have long wings, short legs, and very small bills with a large mouth. All of these are late evening, early morning, and night hunters of insects. God created them with coloration that helps them blend in with the tree or leaves around them and most perch horizontal to the limbs instead of across them like most birds. This also helps hide them in the daytime. Even though they have the name “Hawk”, they do not resemble what most would think of hawks. The term is more of the fact of ‘hawking or catching” insects while in flight. Most fly low over the ground in search the moths and large flying insects. They range from 7 to 13 inches long with wingspans from 11 to 24 inches.

All Nighthawks listed in the New World are the Band-tailed Nighthawk, Plain-tailed Nighthawk, Nacunda Nighthawk, Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Short-tailed Nighthawk, Antillean Nighthawk, Lesser Nighthawk, Common Nighthawk, Least Nighthawk, Sand-colored Nighthawk

UPDATE: AUG 30, 2008: Upon further investigation, the night hawk mentioned in the verses is most likely a type of owl that feeds at night. I will make a new article soon. Enjoy this anyway. (Lee)

They are again in our list of birds that are “unclean.” Both verses are identical in the KJV.

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, (Lev 11:16)
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, (Deu 14:15)

See Nighthawks for more information.

Grey Nightjar