The afternoon began with coyotes, turkey vultures, and wildflowers. It ended with trying to capture bats with an echometer. What greeted us instead were four common nighthawks Chordeiles minor flying over the Beaver Pond foraging for their dinner.
Soundless in their flight except for the wingbeats they put on an aerobatic show of swooping and diving over the pond. Competing with the barn swallows for the insects and avoiding collisions with the murmuration of starlings more than once, these nighthawks foraged for over an hour.
Observing common nighthawks is rare today. Their population numbers are steeply declining. I recall seeing them at the Matador Wildlife Management Area over 15 years ago. This was the first time at the campus that they have been observed since I began my biological monitoring in 2015.
Indeed, this was once a lifetime moment. Sitting and silently observing these common nighthawks forage away at the Beaver Pond continuously during the late evening hours. Nature is always teaching me about life. The moment taught me that life is ever more precious. Enjoy the simple moments, especially of a silent nature show by common nighthawks.