Common Nighthawk Nest

[dc]W[/dc]hile roaming through the scrub a few days ago, my friend Aubrey and I flushed a Common Nighthawk off the ground.  These birds are a fairly common sight in some areas of Ocala National Forest, especially in the early morning and evening hours.  The nighthawk flew off, but unlike most other nighthawks I have flushed in the past, it came back and circled the area.  This bird obviously had a nest. I hadn’t seen exactly where she flew from, so I figured it would be nearly impossible to find her incredibly camouflaged 2 egg nest.  However just a few quick steps later, I was staring right at it.  The nest was a simple scrape in the ground, just a small depression where leaf litter had been brushed aside to reveal sand, which perfectly matched the color of the brown and beige mottled eggs.  The only evidence that a nighthawk had just been here was a small fluffy feather stuck on a nearby branch of myrtle oak. We only had Aubrey’s cell phone for a photo, but you can see how well the eggs blend in with the leaf litter and sand.

Common Nighthawk nest with 2 eggs (photo by Aubrey Sirman)

In Florida, Common Nighthawk numbers peak during the second and third weeks of September, as migrants head to South America for the winter.  They won’t return until the last week in April.