[Tweeters] Nighthawks were once common here

Phil Kelley scrubjay323 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 9 13:53:23 PDT 2016

I used to have Nighthawks over my yard in Lacey until Jubilee and other
areas of Lacey near Hawkes Prairie started getting developed. That was
probably in the late 90s. Sure do miss them.

Phil Kelley
scrubjay323 at gmail.com
Lacey, WA
On Jun 9, 2016 12:49 PM, "Rachel Lawson" <rwlawson at q.com> wrote:

I remember the nighthawks in the University District when I was a graduate
student in the 70s. I often saw them and heard them peenting at night. It
was sad when they disappeared. Joseph and I live in Magnolia, now, only a
few blocks from Discovery Park. Last year, we saw two nighthawks at the
park on 4 June and had one fly low over our house on 14 June. This year,
driving home along Magnolia Blvd on 30 May, we saw another one. These
birds are the first I have seen in Seattle since the 70s. We are hoping
that these spring sightings mean that these birds are attempting to nest in
the park, though I don’t know how they will escape the crows. We are
watching for them. One can always dream…

Rachel Lawson


rwlawson at q.com

*From:* tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu [mailto:
tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] *On Behalf Of *Ed Newbold
*Sent:* Wednesday, June 8, 2016 10:09 PM
*To:* Tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
*Subject:* [Tweeters] Nighthawks were once common here

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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