Here are a few pictures from this last month of birding & an update to my nightjar surveying adventures.
After completing 6 nightjar surveys, my curiosity about these mysterious birds deepened. According to the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, subspecies map page 552, the Chordeiles Minor, sp. Minor, have a breeding range north of the southern area of the province I did my surveys in. So I headed up to Juniper Beach Provincial Park to spend a few days counting and follow up observing. Over a 3 night survey in prime habitat, I counted on July 3, 12 CONI; July 4, 32 CONI; and on the 5th only 2. This minor subspecies seemed much larger than the sp. Hesperis from my surveyed routes in the south.
The displays included much vocalization and wing booming as they repeatedly tried to court and were either paired or pairing with there mates. The groups observed all headed west up the Thompson River towards the end of there evenings display. Was I witnessing migration in progress as well as a pairing event? Do they take place at the same time? My wonder only deepened.
I then remembered a paper written by Mark Brigham in a study that confirmed that the Common Nighthawk’s preferred diet is the caddis fly. And guess what was in full hatch in this location, three weeks after the Okanagan Falls mass feeding event?
I’m going to conduct further research (if it hasn’t already been done) to discover weather or not the migration/ reproduction strategy closely follows the seasonal caddis fly hatch specific to geographical location.
On my 4th day, I decided to go searching for flowering prickly pair cacti to photograph, as there had been much rain this year. Or maybe even a good rattlesnake or lizard photo. You can imagine my complete surprise when I came across this:
A male nighthawk feigning a broken wing! Even more frightening was the following protective display, hissing included:
He then took flight, as seen here:
After a few quick moments of searching, I discovered these wonderful little creations!
I could see no female present, and left the area completely as quickly as possible. I had briefly considered further study, but was unable to find a location with visibility of the nest and eggs that would not have disturbed the nesting site. What an incredibly serendipitous find and exciting experience!
Also from Juniper Beach Provincial Campground:
A Bullocks Oriole clowning about performing various antics in the tree.
A lovely contrast to his vibrant colors in the sage.
A wonderful end to a truly great experience of learning & discovery!