At 04:16 PM 8/4/2004 -0400, HeraldPetrel@...
>This morning while crossing the parking lot at the North Island, Coronado air
>terminal, I flushed a Nighthawk from under a parked car. The bird uttered a
>single gruff vocalization when spooked, like Caprimulgids often will do when
>handled, but did not give a flight call. I believe the bird was a Common
>Nighthawk based on shape and flight style, however, without hearing that
>distinctive vocalization I am hesitant to claim it as such. The bird flew
>around the air terminal and out toward the runway. It was only seen for
>seconds, but long enough for me to judge the bird's shape and flight style
>rather well. The wingbeats were quite deep and smooth, with lots of flight
>action from side to side, unlike the more fluttery, direct flight of Lesser
>Nighthawk. In any case, any Nighthawk on Coronado is a rarity, and I was
>surprised by the bird. I was not able to relocate the bird, but I don't
>access to the runways. I assume this is at the early end of Common
>migration through SoCal, and well before Lesser Nighthawk's fall migration?
>I'm without my Garrett and Dunn at the moment, so any thoughts would be
Certainly based on known status Lesser Nighthawk is the only nighthawk to
be expected on the southern California coast in late summer (or, in fact,
at any time of year). Although peak fall movement of Lesser (poorly known
as it is) is probably later in August and in September, there is a good
scattering of records from late July and early August along the coast --
those of us participating in the Sea and Sage Audubon barbeque this past
Saturday, 31 July, saw one at San Joaquin Marsh in Irvine.
I don't think we can even speculate on what the "early end of Common
Nighthawk migration" in southern California might be, since the species is
virtually unknown here as a migrant. We know that birds arrive on the
breeding grounds in late May or early June and have generally departed by
early September. Garrett and Dunn cite a 3 Aug 1980 record for Ojai,
Ventura Co., and there are a couple of odd late July records for the San
Gabriel Mtns. where the species is not known to breed.
All the above status information, of course, is unimportant of your bird
really could be pinned down as a Common Nighthawk, but the odds would
certainly favor Lesser. Maybe we'll be able to tell once we have the
specimen -- I presume that since the Navy shot a Gull-billed Tern near the
NAS North Island runway this spring (claiming it was an air strike hazard)
they will also dispatch this intruding nighthawk!
Kimball L. Garrett
Ornithology Collections Manager
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA