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The nightjar


I think I forgot to mention – we were working in the yard a couple of weekends ago, when darling wife nearly stepped on something which fluttered in response, causing her to recoil.

It was a large bird, very well-camouflaged, sitting calmly on the ground. After some research, we discarded the idea that it might be a burrowing owl, and instead we concluded that it was a whippoorwill, or a chuck-will’s-widow , of the variety known as the nightjar. It is named thus because of its extremely loud, irritating and repetitive call, which sounds very much like a car alarm. It calls for hours at a time, one call every two seconds, like clockwork. And it can be heard for more than a kilometer.

And here was one, nesting in our yard. I was not happy.

Darling wife reminded me that they vacuum up insects at night, particularly mosquitoes. They are almost as effective as bats in insect control. So I left him alone.

He stayed there for days. Then, one day, he was not there. We still hear him, but he has decided to roost somewhere else during the day.

At least we do not need to avoid stepping on him, now.


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