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Boomer, the Common Nighthawk

This is a bird that I had never heard of before reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess. Boomer has a small bill but a very big mouth, as Peter Rabbit learns. But that isn’t the only thing that Peter learns about Boomer first hand…

Peter tipped his head way back. High up in the blue, blue sky was a bird which at that distance looked something like a much overgrown Swallow. He was circling and darting about this way and that. Even while Peter watched he half closed his wings and shot down with such speed that Peter actually held his breath. It looked very, very much as if Boomer would dash himself to pieces. Just before he reached the earth he suddenly opened those wings and turned upward. At the instant he turned, the booming sound which had so started Peter was heard. It was made by the rushing of the wind through the larger feathers of his wings as he checked himself.

Thornton W. Burgess, The Burgess Bird Book for Children, Living Books Press Edition, p. 115

As I was doing a little research, I found this wonderful account of a well-known birder’s encounter with the Common Nighthawk. I really recommend listening to this because Greg Budney, an Audio Curator for the Macaulay Library, does an amazing job at recreating his experience.

Cornell Lab

Here is the Common Nighthawk in flight around dusk- a wonderful time to see them in the field:

Cornell Lab

It is great to know the characteristics that make Boomer different from other birds that fly close to the ground and make similar calls. The white wing bar that you can see during flight is a good one for us to be aware of. Here is the rest of what we gathered about Boomer:

I’m really grateful that we can spend time learning about birds that were once unfamiliar to us! Can’t wait to continue on as we enjoy birding together.

Until next time, keep birding! <3 Kate

Burgess Birds in Detail

Burgess Bird Pages

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