Saturday, July 6, 2013

Common Nighthawks: Birds Disguised as Bark

Common Nighthawk: photograph  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Common Nighthawk: Feathers mimic bark  © SB
Now this bird is amazing: The Common Nighthawk has such intricate camouflage feather markings that once it lands, it almost disappears.

(We first saw it — but almost didn't — perched and sleeping on a fence post in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan.)

The camouflage works so well that All About Birds says that the insect-eating Nighthawks make no nest; with these markings, even the young are hard to find.

On our recent Prairie Passages Tour of grasslands and pastures in SW Saskatchewan, several people commented that it seemed the Val Marie, Saskatchewan, area was like a Common Nighthawk sanctuary.

They talked about seeing large groups resting on trees (which I missed...), and we saw several buzzing the early morning skies for bugs.

I was so happy when this Nighthawk was found roosting in plain view at the new GNP campground!

Common Nighthawk: photograph  © Shelley Banks, all rights reserved.
Easy to see in a close-up shot... Trickier in person, at a distance.   © SB

What is this? A Common Nighthawk
Location: Campground, Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan.
Photo date: June 26, 2013.

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