Friday Feathered Fact
NighthawkThe Owl that Wasn’t. During each spring and fall migration, rescue calls come in for a “tiny owl” lying on the ground. Quite often, the tiny owl turns out to be one of two unfamiliar look-alike birds. These are the poorwill and the nighthawk, which are not raptors at all but night time insect eaters. They are often seen “hawking” for insects at sunset and around bright lights such as at parks and sporting events. During their long migrations, they rest motionless on the ground during the day, sometimes allowing close approach as they rest. During the cold autumn, they even experience torpor (mini-hibernation) when resting and can be picked up. This often causes people to think they are injured. Here is a 4-point test to determine if the bird is a small owl or a poorwill/nighthawk. (1) It has an all dark eye versus an owl’s yellow eye; (2) It lies horizontally on the ground (not sitting upright) with long wing tips and tail pointing straight back; (3) It has a tiny beak (short & narrow) that points forward; (4) Its feathers are dark brown.