Nighthawk

The common nighthawk has been prevalent in the area in places like Defiance and Bryan, despite its numbers declining in Canada and the U.S.

The cries of “Peent”! are once again filling the skies at dusk and one hour before sunrise. The bird using this cry is the common nighthawk and according to allaboutbirds.com, its numbers are in steep decline. In Canada, where its numbers are declining even more, the bird is listed as a threatened species.

But at least in Defiance and Bryan, that is not the case. The “peent!” cries can be heard in downtown Bryan and at the Walmart parking lot. In Defiance, at the very least, the “peent!” cries can be heard by the Crescent-News building, by the GM plant and in the Kroger and Walmart parking lots.

In Defiance, what do all four places have in common? They possess flat, gravel roofs.

The common nighthawk, out in the country, prefers to nest out in the open, but near logs, boulders and shrubs. The bird doesn’t have a nest, per say, with the female laying her eggs on the ground and then incubating the eggs from there.

In areas like Defiance, though, there is the flat, gravel roof that the bird likes in order to incubate its eggs. There is a dual purpose here, as the bird likes strong lighting. That’s because that type of lighting attracts insects. And the nighthawk likes to feed on the wing, so it’s a perfect setting for the species.

The common nighthawk, according to wikipedia.org, possesses “buoyant and erratic flight. It is well camouflaged in gray, white, buff and black, with a white patch on the lower edge of the wing.” The bird is 9-10 inches long, with a 20-24 inch wingspan. It has short legs and a short beak, but a very large mouth, in order to catch the insects on the wing.

The common nighthawk has quite a courtship display, according to allaboutbirds.com: “The male dives through the air, making a booming sound, as air rushes through the wings.”

The common nighthawk is a solitary bird that is monogamous, but when migrating, does so in large flocks, as it makes its way to its wintering grounds in South America. The nighthawk is reportedly one of the last birds to make its way north and can be found from early to mid May. It then leaves to go back to its wintering grounds in late July and early August, so the bird is getting ready to leave now.

One of the longest migratory birds of North America, according to Wikipedia, the common nighthawk travels from 1,600 to as much as 4,200 miles, to reach its wintering grounds.

And it’s so far, so good, for the nighthawk in Defiance and Bryan, because the buildings still possess the flat roofs.

The nighthawks will likely stay around as long as the companies don’t try to change the roofs into the new style rubberized roofs. These are reportedly too hot for the common nighthawk to stay and incubate. Reportedly, gravel pads have been placed in the corners of rubberized roofs in some places and the common nighthawk has successfully nested on those pads.

The common nighthawk typically lays two eggs. Once a successful hatching occurs, the nighthawk chick is able to fly, 18 days after hatching. By days 25-30, the youngster is an excellent flyer. And at day 52, the juvenile nighthawk is ready to join the flock, for upcoming migration. These birds migrate for the winter to South America.

New water trail designated

PUT-IN-BAY — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) invites the public to Oak Point State Park on South Bass Island to attend the designation of Ohio’s newest state water trail on Aug. 6 at 10:30 a.m. The Lake Erie Islands Water Trail guides paddlers to the public accesses on the waters of the Lake Erie Islands region.

“Lake Erie has long provided visitors to Ohio’s north coast wonderful on-the-water recreational opportunities,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “The water trail highlights the beauty of Lake Erie and its lovely islands which will further enhance paddling one of the state’s best boating destinations.”

The ceremony will feature remarks by Mertz, as well as the Lake Erie Water Trail Partners including Put-in-Bay Township Park District, National Park Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and The Ohio State University Sea Grant.

Following the designation ceremony, participants are invited to join Mertz on a 45-minute kayak float from Put-In-Bay to Gibraltar Island. Kayaks will be available, or attendees may bring their own kayak. Light refreshments will be served.

Interested attendees are encouraged to depart from Catawba on the Miller Ferry at 9 a.m. (cost is $7.50 per adult one-way or $15 per adult roundtrip). For more information on ferry tickets, visit www.millerferry.com.

Because parking is limited at Oak Point State Park, attendees should park their car at Miller Ferry. A shuttle will bring transport attendees to the event upon arrival of the 9 a.m. ferry at Put-in-Bay. After the ceremony and canoe float, a shuttle will return participants to the ferry dock in time to board the 1 p.m. ferry back to Catawba.

Attendees are requested to RSVP by Aug. 1 to the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft by calling 614-265-6520 or emailing heidi.evans@dnr.state.oh.us.

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