Common Nighthawk is HRM 2024 Bird of the Year 29Jun2024

From presentation by Fulton Lavender & Joshua Barss Donham on Birds in the Backlands: Indicators of the Health of the Habitat (Oct 2022)

It’s not common, it’s not a hawk, and it doesn’t hunt at night, but the Common Nighthawk IS “HRM 2024 Bird of the Year”!

The announcement was made by Jess Lewis on Mainstreet NS in conversation with host Jeff Douglas on June 27.  Jess is Conservation Coordinator for Nature Nova Scotia and Chair of Bird-Friendly Halifax.

The Common Nighthawk is listed as a Species At Risk/Threatened in Nova Scotia.

From the NS Species AT Risk page:

Jess Lewis said selection of the Common Nighthawk as Bird of the Year is especially appropriate as “The theme this year was insects, and the Common Nighthawk eats only insects”. She noted that unlike the name, the Common Nighthawk is not  common in Nova Scotia today, but is a Species At Risk. (Jess noted also  that it’s not a Hawk and that it doesn’t come out at night so she wondered about the name.) When asked what people can do to help,  she cited avoiding the use of insecticides, a major cause of insect decline and, accordingly, decline of insectivore birds such as the Common Nighthawk.

In 2023, the Williams Lake Conservation Co. Nighthawk Project revealed much higher Common Nighthawk activity in the Backlands than anticipated. A Species-at-Risk, the insectiverous Common Nighthawk nests in open post-fire areas & feeds on insects that proliferate in wetlands, habitats that are juxtaposed in the Backlands.

The Backlands constitute a large area within an urban landscape that is free of insecticide use, so protecting as much of it as we can from development can only help.

In fact the Backlands have long been known to host Common Nighthawks, the barrens providing breeding sites and the wetlands, insects. Recent and ongoing observations  suggest Common Nighthawk activity in the Backlands is even higher than previously thought.

More to come on that in the Bird Team’s Ground-Nesting Birds 2024 series!


Make Halifax a Bird Friendly City
Page on Nature Nova Scotia website describes the modus operandi and history of Bird Friendly Halifax. HRM was declared an Entry-level Bird Friendly City in the fall of 2022. The 2023 HRM Bird of the Year was the Black-capped Chickadee.

Conservation Status in Canada & USA from NatureServeExplorer

Halifax receives official Bird Friendly City designation from Minister Guilbeault
Nature Canada Press Release Jan 26, 2023

World Migratory Bird Day 2024 to Focus on Insects
On “In 2024, World Migratory Bird Day will be celebrated on two days, 11 May and 12 October, aligning with the cyclic nature of bird migration in different hemispheres…[it will] will focus on the importance of insects for migratory birds, and highlight concerns related to decreasing populations of insects.”

Recovery Plan for the Common Nighthawk (Cordeiles minor) in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry. 2021, Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act Recovery Plan Series. The document incorporates Recovery Strategy for the Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) in Canada (Environment Canada. 2016)

Sparrows Hawks & Doves Project 16Mar2022
A report by Martha R Leary,  Sparrows Hawks & Doves Coordinator March 16, 2022

Goatsuckers & Raptors in the Backlands
Fulton Lavender & Joshua Barss Donham at Ecology Workshop (Oct 2022).

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