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In the sky, it’s a what?

Last night we were enjoying dinner outside when we looked up to see a sky filled — hard to do this justice — with a bird that seemed to be some kind of raptor. My guess is that it is a falcony-like bird (kestrel or something?). It seemed to be up there feasting on the bugs that were so prevalent last night, but maybe it was the dragonflies? It was a smaller raptor and had a kind of stripe across the wings.

I wish I could describe to you how many there were. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. They moved in a mass of them more like a school of fish than birds and seemed to be focused on eating and eating. Simply hundreds of them. I was surprised that a raptor would eat insects but that seemed to be what they were doing.

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11 Comment(s)

  1. I never noticed them prior to three or four years ago, but they were nighthawks (which apparently aren’t actually hawks, or any sort of raptor, despite their appearance and their name]. They migrate through Duluth every year at about this time. Or, perhaps, almost exactly this time--the little “what you were doing a year ago” thing in my facebook sidebar today was a comment on the nighthawks arriving.

    The Big E | Aug 24, 2011 | New Comment
  2. B-Fry | Aug 24, 2011 | New Comment
  3. That’s them exactly. Thanks so much PDDers.

    jhatcher | Aug 24, 2011 | New Comment
  4. That’s an awesome link, B-Fry.

    Spy1 | Aug 24, 2011 | New Comment
  5. Neat link B-Fry! If nighthawks eat mosquitos, send all of the birds to our house ASAP!

    emmadogs | Aug 25, 2011 | New Comment
  6. Can anyone give me the “real” name of the night hawks? It is not listed in any of my bird books and they are not shown under hawks or raptors of any kind.

    Bill | Aug 25, 2011 | New Comment
  7. Nighthawks (caprimulgidae) belong to the nightjar family of birds, of which there are over 60 variants.

    TimK | Aug 25, 2011 | New Comment
  8. Why aren’t they raptors? what makes a raptor a raptor?

    john | Aug 25, 2011 | New Comment
  9. I agree with emmadogs — send those nighthawks to my place too! Even at 1 PM in the sun the mosquitoes were abundant and really fast-biting…after a summer of hardly any.

    Francene Starr | Aug 25, 2011 | New Comment
  10. Nighthawks are in the Peterson’s guide and in the Sibley guide. Peterson’s says they are “aberrent goatsuckers,” which sounds like fighting words to me.

    They won’t be under hawks or raptors, because they aren’t hawks or raptors.

    bluenewt | Aug 26, 2011 | New Comment
  11. Raptor specifically means a bird of prey- (it eats things bigger than bugs).

    TimK | Aug 26, 2011 | New Comment

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