Nighthawks are not really hawks. These birds are part of the
nightjar family that has 67 other kinds.
The common nighthawk has a wide, white bar on its
pointy wings. It has a long, notched tail, a white throat, and tail
patches. The bottom of the bird is dark brown. They are
between 8 and 10 inches long. It makes a sound like "peeent."
They usually are alone but some will travel with a flock when they
Nighthawks live in milder, temperate
North America. They like to live in grasslands, open woods, and even
cities. Most nighthawks will travel south before winter and return
again in the spring. During the day, they will sit very still on a
tree branch with their eyes shut. They hunt for insects at
night. They catch hundreds of insects as they fly.
After they mate, the female lays two eggs. She
lays them on the bare ground. There is no nest. If the
nighthawks live in the city, they might lay them on the roof of a
building. The female keeps the eggs warm for 18 - 20 days until they
hatch. If the eggs don't stay warm, they won't hatch. The male
feeds the female who is warming the egg. Later on, he gets food for
the baby birds. After they are born, the babies stay with their mothers
until their feathers are grown enough that they can fly. It takes
three weeks until the birds are ready to leave. Baby birds are born
when there are lots of insects for food. Between April and the
middle of July are times when the birds are born.
Scientists disagree whether nighthawks hibernate.
Most think that there is a 'sleep' time that is shorter and less deep than
'true' hibernation. This torpor
seems like that of the bear. Nighthawks will go into torpor and stay
in their nests for shorter times.
Back to Hibernation