(Story and photo by Rebecca Suomala)
This female nighthawk laid two eggs on the roof at Havenwood Heritage Heights in Concord, NH (you can see the eggs next to the middle section of the small iron bar). It had been many years since there was nighthawk activity at Havenwood, but back in 2008 Project Nighthawk put an experimental gravel nest patch on top of their four-story building. When Mark Jenks, Director of Maintenance, then and now, found the nest with two eggs this summer on their lower peastone roof, he contacted me right away. With support from Mark and Mike Palmieri we monitored the nest, hoping for hatch. By the time I took this photo on July 27 it was very late for hatch and we were getting worried. Nighthawks migrate at the end of August and there wasn’t much time for a chick to develop into a well-flying adult. Unfortunately, the female abandoned a couple of days later. An examination of the unhatched eggs showed signs of very early development and it’s likely they were made inviable by extreme heat or a cold, flooding rain.
Although the nest failed, it was one of the bright spots in a difficult year for nighthawk nest monitors with all the rain. There will be more on the nesting season in the Winter 2023-24 Afield. Fortunately, nighthawks still nest in Canada in good numbers, providing a great migration spectacle if you’re in the right place at the right time! Stay tuned to New Hampshire Bird Records for more on the fall migration and Rob Woodward’s spectacular count of 8,603 on August 28, 2023 in Franklin, NH.