[Tweeters] Nighthawks were once common here

Ed Newbold ednewbold1 at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 8 22:08:36 PDT 2016

Hi all,
I was delighted upon arrival here in the 1970s to discover that Nighthawks were present during the breeding season in pretty much every Seattle neighborhood.  A Nighthawk beeping high overhead can make even the Torchlight Parade a pleasant experience!  This subject has come up before on tweeters and I have saved emails of old-timers who remember watching Nighthawks and Swifts from the front porch on summer evenings in Seattle. 
I believe the Nighthawks were present through the 70s but did not survive past 1981 or 1982 in Seattle.  Crow populations were exploding in Seattle at the same time, commented upon by nearly everyone.  I realize that associations don't prove causation but I've always suspected Crows.  Pesticides, tropical deforestation and climate change may have a huge role in the overall decline of AAIs (Avian Aerial Insectivores),  but was there a big change or spike in any of these factors in Western WA, SW BC, and Western Oregon in that time interval?  I surely doubt it! 
Nighthawks nested on logjams prior to the arrival of settlers in the Northwest.  Logjams, which were immense and extensive, were all removed quickly by the industrious newcomers.  With the logjams gone Nighthawks switched to rooftops where they  were safe from Mammalian predators.  Rooftops served them well until the extirpation.  Nighthawks have no nest defense to speak of and depend basically on not being found.   Killdeer, Kestrels, Barn Swallows and many other similarly vulnerable birds all put up more of a defense/offense.
I burn a candle of hope that Nighthawks will find a way back in the Puget Sound, even though that would contradict Newbold's Law:  "Nothing good ever happens."   Perhaps they can come up with a new nesting strategy or some predator will manage to end the Crow's rigid hegemony here.  
Meanwhile we should cherish and report every sighting.
Delia and I were lucky  to have traveled all over the state this last weekend with Andy and Ellen Stepniewski and Brian Pendleton.  Nighthawks afforded stunning visuals on the Yakama Reservation and in Ione in the far NE corner of the state  and on three other occasions I was delighted to hear exceedingly sharp-eared Andy and/or Brian inform me of their presence even though the sound escaped me.  Still, this boy was hoping for more.
Thanks for all the Nighthawk comments and Nighthawk sightings.
Three cheers for the Common Nighthawk!!!
Best wishes,
Ed Newbold   


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