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 Common Nighthawk

Status in Michigan
Common Transient summer resident

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Common Nighthawk.

Use the links below to view the Common Nighthawk reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Spring 2005
View Common Nighthawk sightings.
Common Nighthawk Archives Reports
Fall 2003 1928
Spring 2003 15
Winter 02-03 0
Fall 2002 1866
Summer 2002 5
Spring 2002 191
Winter 01-02 0
Fall 2001 147
Summer 2001 8
Spring 2001 9
Winter 00-01 0
Fall 2000 1223
Summer 2000 8
Spring 2000 12
Winter 00-99 0
Fall 1999 498
Spring/Summer 1999 6

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Common Nighthawk

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
Active Database - Fall 2003
View Fall 2003 sightings.
Whitefish Point Bird Observatory Official Seasonal Count Summaries for the Common Nighthawk
Fall 1999-Spring 2002
Common Nighthawk
Note: Some species will not be present in the WPBO archives and will return no records.

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text
The Birds of Michigan - by: Norman A. Wood
Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75

Chordeiles minor minor (Forster)
Eastern Nighthawk (A.O.U. 1998: Common Nighthawk)

Common summer resident.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839: 415).

SPRING.-Principal movement, in which usually only very small numbers are noted, begins about mid-May in southern counties, and in late May in the Upper Peninsula.

Lower Peninsula.-In the Toledo-Erie marsh area, the Nighthawk has appeared by May 2, earliest individuals averaging May 9 and the main flight May 17 (L. W. Campbell, 1940: 191, 204). In the Detroit (Swales, 1903:17; and notes) and Ann Arbor regions it has been observed occasionally as early as the first week of May, though usually not until mid-May; on May 4, 1938, 12 were seen by Brodkorb in Ann Arbor. The Nighthawk has occurred at Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, by May 13 (F. W. Rapp, 1931:17) ; along the shore of Berrien County, flocks of 100 or more were migrating until May 31, 2023 (N. A. Wood, 1922: 16; and notes).

Upper Peninsula.-At Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, the Night- hawk arrived in 1936 on May 22 (Brodkorb) ; it has appeared at both McMillan, Luce County (Bryens), and Blaney, Schoolcraft County (Christofferson), rather regularly the fourth week of May-occasionally a few days earlier. It was noted in the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County, on May 23 (S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 179), and on Isle Royale, Keweenaw County, on May 21 (in 1937, by Laurence Dayton).

SUMMER.-Eggs of the Nighthawk have occasionally been found in late May and late July, but are more commonly found in June and early July.

Lower Peninsula.-Jerome Trombley collected a set of 2 eggs at Peters- burg, Monroe County, on May 27, 2023 (Swales' notes). In the Detroit area, Swales (1903: 17) noted the species as common, F. C. Hubel collecting a set of 2 eggs (U.M.M.Z.) there on June 4, 1900. The Nighthawk nests fairly commonly in the Ann Arbor area; R. E. Morrill found a nest with 2 young on June 9, 1936, and John L. George a nest with eggs on May 25, 1939. Walkinshaw photographed a nest with 2 eggs at Battle Creek on July 24, 1938. Gibbs (1885: 134) stated that the Nighthawk nested abundantly in Kalamazoo County; more recently F. W. Rapp (1931: 17) noted it as "rather rare" at Vicksburg in that county, recording an early nest with 3 eggs on May 22,1889. N. A. Wood and Gaige (1911: 287-88) found it breeding in northwestern Huron County in 1908; they reported a nest with a single egg on June 20 and a young bird in another nest on August 3. Chaney (1910: 274) recorded a nest with 2 eggs on July 2, 1909, and listed the Nighthawk as abundant in Mason County. N. A. Wood found a nest "with 2 eggs on Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, on June 25, 1925. In the Douglas Lake region, Cheboygan County, Blanchard and Nelson (MS of 1937) have found nests with eggs from June 23 to July 21 and nests with young as early as July 1.

Upper Peninsula.-N. A. Wood (1914: 65) recorded 2 nests each with 2 young at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, 1 on July 15, 1912, and 1 on July 8, 1914. At McMillan, Luce County, Bryens found a nest with 1 egg as early as June 15 (1935); at Sault Ste Marie, Christofferson and Magee found a nest with 2 eggs on June 18, 1924. At Blaney, Schoolcraft County, Christofferson has observed a few birds every summer, and recorded a neat with 2 eggs on June 22, 1933. N. A. Wood (1918: 8) listed the species as breeding in the vicinity of Deerton, Alger County, in 1916; at Brown Lake, Dickinson County, F. M. Gaige (1914: 82) found 2 downy young in a nest on July 1, 1909. The Nighthawk is listed as a common summer resident in the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County, by Christy (1925: 212) and S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 179); it was recorded from Isle Royale in the latter part of the summers of 1904 and 1905 (Max M. Peet, 1909: 356-57), and in June, 1930, by N. A. Wood.

FALL.-The fall movement, more pronounced than the spring one, occurs chiefly in the latter part of August in the Upper Peninsula, and from late August to early September in the southernmost tiers of counties.

Upper Peninsula.-On Isle Royale the species has been reported as common in August, but apparently is absent after September 1 (N. A. Wood, Peet, and McCreary, 1906:124; Peet, 1909 : 356-57; 1909ff; 117). "Loosely drawn-out bands" of Nighthawks were migrating at dusk at Kenton, Hough- ton County, on August 23, 2023 (Leonard Wing, 1940: 178-79). Similarly, at Golden Lake, Iron County, from about August 18 to September 2, 1938, an early evening flight (maximum of 80 birds at one time) was of frequent occurrence (John L. George and R. L. Patterson) ; at Brown Lake, Dickinson County (F. M. Gaige, 1914: 82), Nighthawks were more numerous in August than during the preceding months, a large flock being noted on August 24,1909. S. S. Gregory, Jr. (1929: 179), recorded the species in the Huron Mountains, Marquette County, until September 15. At Blaney, � Schoolcraft County (Christofferson), and at McMillan, Luce County (Bryens), individuals have been observed regularly until some time in the third and fourth weeks of August, and occasionally until early September; among the large numbers observed at one time were 23 on August 16,1940, at McMillan and 50 on August 22,1921, at Sault Ste Marie (Christofferson and Magee). On July 31, 1938, a loose flock of at least 21 passed rapidly and steadily south-westward over Drummond Island, Chippewa County (Hinshaw and R. A. MacMullan).

Lower Peninsula.-Flocking has been reported at Douglas Lake, Cheboygan County, in mid-August (N. A. Wood, Smith, and Gates, 1916: 12; Blanchard and Nelson, MS of 1937), and a pronounced southward movement took place in Antrim and Otsego counties near Elmira through the last week of August, 1923 (Van Tyne, 1925: 619), and in Mason County from August 23 to September 9, 2023 (Chaney, 1910: 274). At Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, F. W. Rapp (1931: 17) has found no Nighthawks after September 14. In the Ann Arbor region the migration seems to be mainly in late August (a flock of 16 to 18 migrating on August 20, 1941-A. E. Staebler) and early September; a few individuals are occasionally noted there after the middle of the month (September 18, 1937, specimen in TJ.M.M.Z.). The movement is somewhat similar in the Detroit area, where Swales (1903: 17; and notes) observed a flock of 50 on August 27 and on August 28 (both in 1908), and a flock of 36 working slowly southward on September 18, 2023 (at Grosse He). L. W. Campbell (1940: 97, 191, 204) recorded heavy migration in late August in the Toledo-Erie marsh area, where the main flight usually ends by September 11, and individuals have left by September 18, though stragglers have been recorded there until October 15.

Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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