Posts Tagged ‘swallowtailed kite’

RescueFest at Folke Peterson and a NightHawk

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

The day started out hot and steamy. A very nice lady, Karyn L., I met in Titusville at the 2009 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, braved the heat to make a second trip to my house to take some pictures of my martins. Of course I am ever proud of my thriving colony in my backyard, so of course she is always welcome. I then had to make last minute preparations for a 1pm presentation on Purple Martins at the Folke Peterson Wildlife Center.

The center was having its RescueFest. A fund raiser to attempt to help save the center during our challenging economic times. Friday night was an adults only event with wine tasting, silent auctions and I heard, great fun was had by all. Saturdays turn out was modest and the highlight for me was meeting a Swallow-tailed kite up close and personal. The girl holding the kite told me, erroneously, that they are exclusively insectivores. I told her of the kite who snatched a dove nestling out of a nest in a tree in the neighbors yard and I had the feeling she thought I was quite wrong. This evening I even double checked my facts and according to my trusty Audubon Field Guide, swallow-tailed kites eat insects and “snatches lizards off the trunks of trees.” So from a lizard to a naked nestling, I don’t consider it a far stretch.

I also saw, tonight at dusk, for the second time in my life a Common Nighthawk. The first time I saw one was last week and I did not know what it was. It was about 6pm and the martins were feeding high above the house and I noticed a bird similar in wing shape but a bit larger and with white wingbars. Its flight was distinct and much different than I had ever seen. Described by Audubon as “fluttery” I though it more pulsing yet irregular. Tonight I heard its distinct call and looked up searching. Knowing that there was enough light to catch a view and sure enough, high above calling its buzzy single note. My husband, as usual, thinks I am quite the “bird nerd” and I proceeded to try and convince him of the importance of this event. He was non-plussed. The Common Nighthawk is probably a bird that many of you have heard but never noticed. In the nightjar family, Nighthawks are related to whippoorwills and are equally odd looking. I always hear them at night in the parking lots of Kmart and the like. Never able to see them due to the darkness, I was always intrigued by the nasal “peent” . For many years I though the sound was that of some kind of frog or insect. Next time you go to the local super center at night, listen for the Common Nighthawk.

©S.Halpin/PurpleMartinArt.com