In anticipation of a major and photogenic meteorological event, I went out just now to photograph the storm. With the exception of some dramatic skies, the whole mess skipped over us (we need the rain, but I can’t say I miss dust and wind). But I caught something else brooding and unpredictable. It shouldn’t be hard for you to spot it, its eye is partly open. Horizontal napping bark.* (See HNB the first here.) Once you’ve found it, click to enlarge, I’ve uploaded a generous-sized file.
For readers unfamiliar with the group of birds called nightjars, this is a Lesser Nighthawk (Chordeiles acutipennis, a member of the caprimulgid family or goat-suckers, along with Whippoorwills and kin). It’s hunkered parallel to a mesquite branch with its tail pointed at the camera. The bird flew up off the ground as I was watching the sky, did a lap of the neighbor’s yard, and settled on a branch where it will stay until it’s dark enough to launch on an aerial forage. Even though the bird is facing slightly away from the camera and behind some twigs, you can see the distinctive white throat patch, and the white mark on the primaries neatly folded over its tail. This is one of a pair of birds who nested on the gravel of a neighbor’s front yard. In an effort to keep wildlife out, the homeowner created a stir along the block (it’s not a very pretty fence) and also a really good habitat for ground-nesting birds. I look at the unpopular fence a little differently, knowing that a pair of nighthawks has fledged nestlings inside its confines for each of the last three years, at least. (Photo A.Shock)
*Vertical napping bark would be, of course, an owl. This concept inaugurated the Spot the Bird feature here on Three Star Owl blog.